Julie and Joe Gonzales
Julie and Joe Gonzales
Julie and Joe Gonzales
Julie and Joe Gonzales
Go to content
Chinese Tea Ceremony
We bought a genuine purple-clay tea set from Yixing province in China and some Jasmine Dragon Pearl tea. Joe attended a private Chinese tea ceremony class in Singapore and learnt how to perform it from a master, Mr Lee Chee Keong.

Mr Lee Chee Keong of Liuxiang Tea Craft, Liang Court, Singapore

The Chinese tea ceremony is primarily a celebration of tea and of water, which represents life and purity. The aroma and taste of the tea is savoured. During the ceremony water splashes around everywhere. The ordinary glass jug symbolises a community spirit as everyone is served from the same vessel. The Chinese tea ceremony is less "theatrical" than the Japanese tea ceremony, in our opinion, as each ceremony emphasises different cultural aspects. Here is the process:

Chinese Tea Set
Tea Pets
Tea pets are part of a real Chinese tea set. They bring good luck to those who sit with you and drink your tea. They also provide some light entertainment while the tea is brewing, by "blessing" the tea pot with a fine spray of water from their mouths (or elsewhere as in the case of a monkey tea pet we saw once). Since no one really knows exactly which direction they might spray in, there is an element of surprise as well. It is also considered good luck if they spray on your guests.
Tea Smelling Cups
We don't have any, but we have seen examples of them in specialist tea shops overseas. They are tiny cups used to serve just a small amount of the first pot of tea for your guests to savour the aroma. Some teas are very special, or ancient or have historical significance and can be very expensive indeed. These ceremonies show how much the Chinese, and now we, hold tea drinking in high esteem. It can be likened to the passion some have for fine wines, or in fact anything of value, really.
Teapots are also revered and often passed down in Chinese families. Teapots are never washed (for example in soapy water) so as not to loose their individual patina. Small teapost and the process of inverting them over a jug after the tea has brewed ensures that the tea is never too strong or over brewed. The tea is simply refreshed when water is added the next time. When looking for a good teapot, we were told to wet the lid and spin it. The best teapot lids spin effortlessly. Some, of extraordinary quality, never stop spinning or so I've heard.

Our Green Tea Frog

Jasmine Dragon Pearl Tea

Put the tea set on the table - It has a plastic waste-water tray under the bamboo tea tray, even with a hose attachment

Boil water in a black cast-iron tea kettle over coals
To prepare the tea pet (in this case a green tea frog)
Fill the glass jug with boiling water

Immerse the tea pet into the hot water

Wait for the bubbles to stop coming out of his mouth (a hair-thin hole)

Replace the boiling water with cold water
Wait for the tea pet to drink in the cold water
Place the tea pet back on the tea tray

Fill the glass jug with boiling water again

Pour the water from the glass jug over the tea cups to purify them

Pour the water from the glass jug over the teapot to purify it

Use the bamboo tongs to empty the water from the tea cups onto the tea tray

Use the bamboo tongs to open the tea pot, placing the lid on the tea tray

Pour hot water from the glass jug into the teapot, swish it around

Pour all the water from the teapot on the tea tray to purify it

Put the bamboo funnel on the teapot

Use the bamboo tea scoop to get a measure of tea from the clay tea caddy

Use the bamboo tea spoon to push the tea from the bamboo tea scoop into the tea pot

Replace all the bamboo tools into the bamboo tool holder
Fill the tea pot with boiling water from the tea kettle - This is just to "awaken" the tea

Use the bamboo tongs to place the lid back on the tea pot

Wait for 15 seconds
Invert the tea pot over the glass jug and let it drain
Pour the water from the glass jug into the tea tray

Using the bamboo tongs for the lid, as before, fill the tea pot with boiling water from the tea kettle and replace the lid

Wait 30 seconds for the tea to brew
In the mean-time pour some boiling water over the tea pet.

He will soon "bless" the tea pot by squirting a fine stream of water over it.

Invert the tea pot over the glass jug and let it drain

Repeat to obtain enough tea in the glass jug to fill all the cups
Note: At this point, you might let your guests savour the aroma of the tea by serving it to them in special tea smelling cups (not shown)

Fill all the tea cups with tea in one go

Place each tea cup on a bamboo saucer
Serve by pushing a tea cup and bamboo saucer, with both hands, to each guest
Repeat filling the tea pot and glass jug until all the tea is used

Using the bamboo tea pick remove the spent tea from the tea pot and place in a heap on the tea tray
Repeat filling the teapot with tea until everyone is finished

Back to content