Culture, Tradition, Ceremony
Tools of the trade
Following our visit to the Summer Palace, we were treated to a tea tasting in a traditional tea house. Not only did we get to sample five different teas, but we also enjoyed watching and listening to the tea master prepare each tea and describe the qualities and characteristics of each.
Tea service prepped for our tasting
Our first sampling was ginseng oolong, and we were instructed in the proper method of experiencing the aroma and flavor of the tea. The tea was poured into a thin cylindrical porcelain cup and presented to us on a small wooden tray with a typical bowl-shaped porcelain cup.
Tea cups ready to be filled
We were then instructed to place the bowl-shaped cup on top of the cylinder and quickly invert the cups, so that the tea was transferred to the bowl-shaped cup. Then, we were told to pick up the cylinder and roll it gently between our palms while inhaling the aroma of the tea vapor remaining in the cylinder.
Ginseng oolong prepared for inversion
Inverted ginseng oolong
Ginseng oolong ready to taste
Finally, we learned how to properly hold the tea cup and sip the tea. Men were instructed to hold the cup with the thumb and index finger around the rim, the middle finger under the cup, and the remaining two fingers tucked against the palm – the manly way of drinking tea.
The manly way to hold a tiny tea cup
Women held the cup in a similar fashion, but had to extend their pinky finger out away from the cup – very feminine and ladylike!
Becky demonstrates the proper ladylike way to hold a tea cup
We also sample jasmine tea, puer black tea, lychee black tea with rose buds, and a dried fruit “tea” that contained no tea leaves, but had dried kiwi, mango, pineapple and peach.
Puer black tea
Lychee black tea with rose buds
Dried fruit “tea” - the rehydrated fruit was edible and quite delicious
Our tea master also showed us the beautiful blossoming jasmine ball. Unfortunately, we did not get to sample that tea.
The fully open jasmine blossom
The entire experience was very fun and enlightening. Of course, I had to purchase some tea in the showroom following the tasting.