Serving and drinking tea is very much a Chinese culture and in China, you can easily find a tea house in practically every corner of the country’s cities. It’s a place where people meet friends, exchange news about family members and also conduct business. Now, these tea houses have also become venues where destination managers bring their incentive groups to witness the ancient art of tea preparation and sample some of the finest teas in China.
The Chinese tea ceremony is actually not a ritual as many would think. It is not related to religion instead it emphasises on the tea rather than the ceremony. The whole exercise is on the taste and smell of tea. The taste of the tea is then compared to the previous tea through several rounds of drinking. Each step is meant to be a sensory exploration and to be appreciated.
In the making of tea, what is most important is the way it is infused, and second the drinking utensil that is used, the tea pot. Normally about three to five grams of tea are put in a cup with boiled water. The first cup is poured out only to drink the subsequent ones. Tea drinking is said to help reduce weight, is good for the digestive system and will lower your cholesterol.
In China tea is drunk daily and because of its climate and geographic location, different parts of the country grow various kinds of tea. There are five kinds of tea classified according to different techniques involved in making tea. They are the Longjing of Hangzhou, Wulong from Fujian, Jasmine tea, Black tea and compressed tea.
Since tea is the most popular beverage in China, there is even a museum dedicated to it. The tea museum in Hangzhou was opened in 1991, and is the only one of its kind in the country, that is dedicated to tea. Here visitors will be able to discover the impact of tea on the lives of various Chinese groups. On display are 300 kinds of tea along with information which traces the historical background and development of tea in China. Also within the museum is a research institute which often holds conferences on tea and tea culture.
Today, tea drinking in China has culminated into an art form that stresses on the types of tea, brewing and tasting of tea. There is a famous phrase in China that is ke lai jin cha which means when a guest arrives, tea will be brewed. So don’t be surprised when the first thing your Chinese host will do is serve you a cup of tea.