A New Year, A New Tea Tradition

Hello everyone, I AM BACK!!!!!

I greatly apologize for all the hustle and bustle that is going on in my life!   October is the month where my friends and I run around like crazy for Halloween, then November was just insane, then December was Christmas (which we hold at my house), then things busy at work, and ACK!   But no more fear!   I am back 🙂

First and foremost, guess what!   We have another Tea Love talk coming up!   This one is on Sunday, January 19th, 1:30 PM at the West Milford Township Library, 1490 Union Valley Road, West Milford, New Jersey 07480.   As always, we will have a sampling of teas after the talk, so make sure you bring your favorite mug!   Registration is required. To register, make sure you email wmtl@wmtl.org, call 973-728-2822, or visit the Adult/Teen Services desk of the library.   Hope to see you there!

Second, 2014 is on the road and is coming up fast (ACK!   Everything seems to be coming up fast lately!).   So, people are breaking out the party poppers, champagne, and noise makers as they anxiously await 2013’s exit and 2014 grand entrance.

But, where can tea play a part in all of this?

Well, why not borrow from the Chinese New Year for ours?

An image of a 10th century tea offering, found in a tomb in Hebei, China.   Image from TeaGuardian.com

An image of a 10th century tea offering, found in a tomb in Hebei, China. Image from TeaGuardian.com

According to the Tea Guardian, a website whose mission is to promote fine tea as a gourmet habit, an offering of tea is a gesture of respect and gratitude.   Therefore, on New Years in China, children would offer to the elders of the family a cup of sweetened tea, made sweeter by candied fruits and vegetables placed at the bottom of the cup (keep in mind, different fruits and vegetables symbolize different things!).   This was done with great care, with the handle facing the right of the person receiving the offering and the left of the person offering.   The child holds the saucer with both hands as the elder takes the cup by the handle with one hand and the saucer with the other, and sips the tea while listening to child offer well wishes for the upcoming year.

The person offering does not leave empty-handed, though.   The elder, after hearing the well wishes, gives the child a red packet and offers wishes in return.   At one point, the red packets use to hold the wishes, but now they tend to hold trinkets and monetary gifts.

So, this New Years, after making all the noise, the chatter, the clinks, and the mess, offer your elder a cup of sweetened tea and wish them the best for this sure-to-be-wonderful new year.   Start a new tradition that not only celebrates tea, but also celebrates gratitude and the wisdom of years.

Tea Ceremony: Destination China

History of the Chinese Tea Ceremony:

In China, tea was also used initially for medicinal purposes, much like the tea in Japan.   This was strictly within the confines of the temples that dotted the landscape.   Soon, monks began to evolve their tea usage and use it to teach a respect for nature, humility and an overall sense of peace and calmness.   Monks tried to display these philosophical ideas through their tea ceremonies, mixing Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism in their tea ceremonies.   Soon, like the Japanese, the tea ceremonies evolved into a memorial service for both noblemen and family members.

A Young Girl Conducting A Tea Ceremony

A Young Girl Conducting A Tea Ceremony

The Japanese came to China and learned more about the Chinese tea ceremony, breaking off and forming their own tea ceremony.   Originally, the ceremony was called cha dao, or the way of tea.   However, in the 1970s, the Chinese felt a need to differentiate their tea ceremony from the Japanese and re-named their process to cha yi, or the art of tea.

The Chinese tea ceremony has six major parts to it in order to summarize the technical aspects and the skills needed for success.   They are:

–          Attitude.   The host should reflect a happy, calm, relaxed and confident demeanor.

–          Tea selection.   Tea not only needs to taste good; it needs to have a wonderful name and a beautiful background story.

–          Water selection.   Tea is only as good as the water it is put in.   The water should be pure, light and clean.

–          Teaware selection.   Guests should be able to admire and appreciate the beauty of the items.

–          Ambiance.   The ceremony should be in a clean, quiet room that is enhanced with touches of artwork.

–          Technique.   This not only means the manner in which the tea is brewed.   It involves the full body – hand movement, facial expression, grace and demeanor.

Conducting a Chinese Tea Ceremony:

Chinese tea ceremonies are not as ritualistic as Japanese tea ceremonies, but do deserve the same attention and respect as one might offer any culture.   You will need:

A tea-pot

A tea strainer

A kettle

A tea pitcher

A brewing tray

A deep pot or bowl, meant to wash the tea-pot, tea cups and to discard used tea

A tea towel

Water (if possible, get high-quality water)

Loose tea leaves (traditionally, it is oolong, though any tea will suffice)

A tea pick to unclog the tea-pot

A tea leaf holder


Scent cups (a cup with a narrow neck so that one can appreciate the aroma of the tea)

Tea cups (handless cups for drinking the tea)


–          Cure the tea cups in the same way that you did for the Japanese tea ceremony.   However, rather than use tea to soak the tea items, hot water will do.   Use the tongs to take the cups and pot out of the hot water, so as not to burn yourself!

–          Pour a cup of tea and pass it around to your guests so that they can smell the tea, appreciate the aroma, the look and the quality.

–          Make a full pot of tea for your guests now.   Take the tea leaves out of the tea leaf holder and pour the tea leaves into the tea-pot.   Place the tea-pot into the bowl and pour the water from the kettle into the tea-pot from shoulder height.   The tea-pot should overflow.

–          Scoop away any bubbles and tea leaves and put the lid on the tea-pot.   Pour hot water on the pot so that the internal and external temperatures are the same.

–          Pour all the tea into the tea pitcher and fill the tea scent cups.   Place the tea cups upside down on the scent cups.   This act is said to bring prosperity and happiness.

–          This part might take practice for some.   Take the tea cups and flip them so the tea goes from the scent cups into the tea cups.   Do not drink the tea just yet.   Pour this tea into the bowl.

–          Using the same tea leaves that have been in the tea-pot, pour heated water into the tea-pot.   This time, pour the water just above the tea pot.   This is so you do not remove the flavor from the tea leaves too quickly.   Place the lid on the tea pot.

–          Pour the brewed tea into the pitcher.   Pour the tea into the tea scent cups.   Transfer this tea into the tea cups.   You will use this tea for drinking.

–          As a guest, it is proper to thank the person who refills your tea-cup by tapping your pointer and middle finger against your tea-cup.   This is appropriate for more casual settings.

–          The tea drinker cradles the tea-cup in both hands and they savor the aroma before drinking.   The tea should be drunk in three sips total.   The first sip should be small.   The second sip is the biggest sip that the drinker should take.   Finally, the third sip is to empty the cup and savor the aftertaste.

–          After the tea has been finished, use the tongs to empty out the tea leaves from the tea pot.   Discard used tea leaves in the bowl.

–          Finally, the used tea leaves are shown to the guests so that the quality can be appreciated.   The tea ceremony is ended.

Photo Credit:

China Connections Tour.   2012.   Chinese_Tea_10.jpg, 10 Jan 2012.   JPEG.

Source Credit:

Mack, Lauren.   “Brew Perfect Chinese Tea with Gōngfū Chá, a Traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony.”   About.com, 2012.   Web.   10 Jan 2012.

Seven Cups: Fine Chinese Teas.   “Chinese Tea Ceremony History.”   Sevencupsoftea.com, 2001.   Web.   11 Jan 2012.