The Queen has taken her tea at The Tea Chapter, Singapore, so we felt it was our patriotic duty to follow in her footsteps and sup a herbal tea with a tea master. So, if you want to know how to learn how to enjoy traditional Chinese tea making, pull up a chair, this is the blog post for you.
Tea appreciation is part of both Chinese and English cultures, but here we will learn the Chinese serene ritual of tea making, so no biscuit dunking today!
Learning how to perform traditional Chinese tea making properly was something we had booked well before we left and had looked forward to. Thanks to our enchanting ‘Tea Master’ it was a truly fun and memorable experience.
This is the very room our Queen Elizabeth sat in to enjoy her tea. In fact many VIP’s have been, but touchingly to us, they seem particularly proud of our Queen’s visit.
There are many teas to chose from, it can take awhile to get your head around them. You can also order dumplings and other Chinese delights to nibble alongside.
We were all captivated by our Tea Master.
He had an incredibly sweet nature and the cutest smile!
First thing first. Everything must be dry and neat.
Then, we learnt that you must never face the base of a vessel towards your guests. That’s very bad manners! We all practiced picking up the tiny cups with chop sticks, to empty their contents into a bowl, whilst having the base facing ourselves.
That out the way, we all had a good sniff of the Green Tea. It really is exceptional.
We are lucky enough to try the Ming Qian Long Jing tea which is only available for a short time each year (picked at English spring time). Only the tender young leaves are used.
All the vessels were warmed with the water from the kettle.
You must never use your fingers or carelessly tip the tea leaves in to the teapot. It’s the Chinese way to use a little wooden scoop that is placed gently in the bag of leaves. The bag is turned over and the scoop is filled. This way the leaves aren’t damaged. You want to have half the scoop full. Then place them in the teapot.
The water temperature is very important for if you go too hot the goodness in the tea is destroyed. For Green and White tea use water at 75 – 80 degrees. Oolong tea needs the water to be 90 degrees. Red and Black tea can take 100 degrees. Flower teas, such as Jasmine are more delicate, however, and can only take 60 degrees.
He went on to explain more (I’ll share it with you in a moment). It’s just that giggle tho’…
We quietly slurped our tea, which was so refreshing, with nutty hues. I could feel my skin thanking me after each small mouthful.
You can watch the man himself, for your self here.
He then left us to practice what we had learnt. Obviously we’ve made a hundred English builder’s tea, but this was much more considered and was tremendous fun.
The old tea leaves were emptied into a bowl using the wooden tool.
So far so good.
But James maybe didn’t quite have the patience required. AND I see the bottom of the pot. How rude!
Fresh tea leaves are in place and they are washed with the water from the kettle. This water is then tipped away. The teapot is filled with more hot water and this is timed.
The first brew should last 20 seconds (yes, really!). The second brew 25 seconds and the third brew 30 seconds. After that you need to replace the tea leaves.
Andy is the time keeper.
Holding the teapot correctly is a ‘skill’. You need to secure the lid as you pour, as James demonstrates.
The tea is poured from the jug into the tiny tea cups ready to drink straight away.
The tea was very welcome. We’d spend so much time giggling and grinning we needed it’s refreshment.
We decided to go for another fresh pot. There is something satisfying about absorbing yourself in the ritual of a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. The tea is really what it’s all about.
But we had fun with it.
So, remember, get some quality Chinese tea hand picked by ladies with little hands.
Wash them with the kettle water first.
Tip the teapot without holding the side of the pot. Secure the lid.
Make sure the temperature is perfect, for the perfect cup of nourishing tea.
And then… Noooo! You are meant to pour the tea into a pouring jug…
OK I think we got away with it.
Once we were satisfied, we said our thank you’s and strolled downstairs to the store below.
Where we spotted the biggest Chinese Teapot we’d ever seen.
We saluted The Queen.
And bought a couple of tubs of tea leaves. I feel healthier already.
So, whatever you do, next time you are in Singapore make your way to the Tea Chapter to learn all you need to know about Traditional Chinese tea making. Just hold back with those hob nobs.
If you can’t get to Singapore, well, you are now armed with the know how in the arts of Traditional Chinese tea making and can crack on at home. It’s a little like meditating, except you can walk afterwards and you have a giggle too!
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