What Tea is a Traditional Chinese Tea?

Traditional Chinese tea has always been part of Chinese culture, and its history dates back to ancient China (about 5,000 years ago). Traditional Chinese tea is common in casual and formal occasions, from weddings and welcoming guests at home to business meetings. Tea also serves an essential part in spiritual relaxation among the Chinese community.
Chinese tea isn’t just a beverage; there is much exciting philosophy behind it, and this post explores it. It starts with the Chinese tea tradition and how to prepare it for various types of Chinese tea.

The Art and Tradition of Chinese Tea

Initially, Chinese tea was boiled instead of steeped (soaking tea in boiled water to extract the bioactive compounds and flavor from tea solids). Between the 4th and 8th centuries, the popularity of Chinese tea snowballed. However, the Chinese empire tightly controlled the preparation and cultivation of tea plants. Chinese tea and tea ceremonies led to the growth of ceramics which were used in brewing activities.
The art of making traditional Chinese tea has evolved over the years and is passed down from generation to generation. During the tea ceremony, the artist prepares the traditional Chinese tea carefully following specific steps while wearing a traditional Chinese dress called “Qi Pao”. However, the tools and number of steps to be followed during this process depend on the tea ceremony versions.
Gongfu is one of the iconic Chinese tea ceremonies and means “the art of doing something well”. One must invest time and effort in creating an actual art-like tea experience. It unveils one to admiration for Chinese tea of its unique taste and smell of various Chinese teas. More importantly, you’ll notice that enjoying traditional Chinese tea is a social aspect that you to be in a peaceful state of mind.

How to Brew Traditional Chinese Tea (Step by Step)

 Brewing traditional Chinese tea is an art in itself; it can be complicated for beginners to get it right. Before diving into a simple guide on how traditional Chinese tea is prepared, it’s good to understand that Chinese tea has different flavors and tastes. These teas include green, yellow, white, red, Oolong, and dark tea. Above all, their infusion time differs.
Here are simple steps you should follow to brew traditional Chinese tea: 

1. Select your preferred tea leaves

The first step entails selecting authentic Chinese tea leaves whose quality is determined during the picking process in the spring season. Higher-grade tea leaves are often harvested with fewer leaves beneath the bud. Additionally, the season's first picking is usually the finest tea because pickers only pluck the bud.
Additionally, you should consider choosing loose tea leaves (avoid bagged tea leaves).

2. Prepare the Chinese tea set

Chinese tea set consists of items or tools you’ll need for the tea brewing process. It entails a teaspoon, pot, cups, snifter, fair cup, tray, bowl, kettle, etc. Generally, it’s a collection of teaware and necessary utensils used to prepare and serve tea.
Note: In a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, the process of appreciating the tea is highly regarded. It entails passing tea around for participants to examine and admire its quality, aroma, and appearance.

3. Add tea leaves to the teapot

Use a tea holder to scoop loose tea leaves, which you should add to the teapot (also called Gaiwan). You might need to consider cleaning the leaves first to remove any impurities or contamination.
However, you want to use a small amount of Chinese tea at the beginning and add gradually if you want a stronger tea.

4. Prepare your hot water

You need to have the water at the right temperature to make a perfect cup of Chinese tea. Start by boiling the water until you achieve an ideal temperature for the specific type of tea you’ll be using.
For instance, use 210 degrees F for black tea, 212 degrees F for Pu’er tea, and about 180 degrees F for white and green teas. Avoid hot boiling water. Scolding hot water only flashes out all the flavors and antioxidants at once.
You should also avoid certain types of water, such as hard water.

5. Steep the tea

Pour the hot water into the teapot but don’t fill it all to the top. Tea leaves need some space to spread. The average brewing time is about 15 seconds to 5 minutes, but this varies across different types of tea.
For instance, pure Chinese tea leaves grown in mountain-like green and Oolong teas are best steeped for about 30 seconds at a time, while tea leaves grown in sin-drenched, and chemical-filled tea leaves will take at least 3 minutes to steep.
Notably, the longer you brew, the stronger your taste will be. For a bitter flavor, use slightly more tea leaves with hotter water.

6. Pour tea soup into a pitcher or fair cup

You should then pour the tea soup into a fair cup or a serving pitcher. Shake it evenly before pouring it gently into the guests' tea cups. Often the tea cups should be on a tea tray.

7. Serve the tea

Serving traditional Chinese tea, you should place the teacup in front of the guests. You should also hold the cup in your right hand and offer it from your guest’s right side with a smile. In return, guests should receive with both hands.

8. Enjoy the tea

After the tea is served, the guest should first observe its color and smell and sip to taste. Generally, it’s a sign of showing admiration and gratitude to the host. Good etiquette requires a tea drinker to hold the cup with both hands and take the tea in smaller sips (at least three sips per cup).

What are the various Chinese teas used to make traditional Chinese tea?

1. Longjing tea

Green tea is the most popular type of Chinese green tea. Longjing tea (Dragon tea well) is a type of green tea most well-known as traditional Chinese tea. Its chemical composition is close to that of a growing leaf, thus giving a refreshing effect.

2. Pu’er tea

Pu’er is another famous yet special traditional Chinese tea (black tea) that offers a unique taste, intense aroma, and earthy flavor. Unlike other teas, it tastes better as it ages.

3. Bai Hao Yin Zhen Tea

Bai Hao tea (silver needle tea) is a type of white tea also used to make traditional Chinese tea. It’s made from tender, unopened tea leaf buds covered with white fuzz. Its fragrance is similar to that of fresh flowers.

4. Oolong tea

Oolong is also a common type of tea you can’t ignore while talking about traditional Chinese teas. It’s not only versatile, but it’s also tasty (earthy taste) and full of a bright fruit/ floral aroma.

Final Thought

While Longjing tea is often considered traditional Chinese tea, there are other Chinese teas one could explore. Additionally, how you brew or prepare the tea is significant in helping you attain an authentic taste of traditional Chinese tea. More importantly, traditional Chinese tea isn’t just an everyday beverage; it’s an essential part of Chinese culture. Please click here and view all our Chinese teas.




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