Tea Love: Instilling a Love of Tea, One Sip At A Time

Posts tagged ‘Tea Ceremony’

An Olympic-Sized Blog

The Summer Olympics started on July 27th in London.   A show of strength, agility and general sportsmanship as people compete to show the world how powerful their country truly is.

The Olympic Rings, A Representation of The Five Major Continents (The Americas, Asia, Africa, Europe and Oceana)

The Olympic Rings, A Representation of The Five Major Continents (The Americas, Asia, Africa, Europe and Oceana)

So, in honor of the Olympics being held in London, I am going to do a feature on tea party items there!   I have posted in the past how to conduct your own British tea ceremony.   Now, we will focus on the menu for an afternoon tea.

If you take a trip to the Ritz London, a member of the Tea Council’s Tea Guild, you’ll find 17 different loose teas to choose from!   Along with the tea, if you are willing to give a few extra dollars, you can get a glass of champagne to complement your meal.   The meal portion traditionally consists of light sandwiches made out of salmon, ham and cucumber.

How about a cucumber sandwich?   Beat together some unsalted butter, mint and lemon juice.   Season it with some salt and paprika until everything is nice, smooth and creamy.   Spread your concoction onto a slice of bread.   Slice a cucumber very thinly, salt it and place the slices in a colander to drain.   Throw two layers of your cucumbers onto the bread, seasoning it with some pepper along the way.   Add another slice of bread, trim off the crust and cut it however you would like for your party.   If you want to jazz up your presentation, put the sandwiches on a platter with mint sprigs and cucumbers for decoration.

Sometimes, it’s nice to have something a bit meatier.   How about a traditional ham sandwich?   Cream together some butter, slices scallions and mustard in a bowl.   Make sure to sample this and add salt and pepper to taste.   Butter your bread and add thinly sliced ham and sprinkle some parmigiana cheese on top.   Put your other slice of bread on top, cut it how you want and jazz it up with some sprigs of watercress.

The reason for the lightness of this particular meal is because it is usually served around 4:00 PM, usually too early for dinner but too late for lunch.   Imagine how bad it would be to have a heavy pot roast or mac and cheese with a light tea and to then also have your dinner to eat (at that rate, probably closer to 9:00, 10:00!).   So, light snacks with some tasty tea is perfect for this.

Not willing to travel to London for a spot of tea?   There are plenty of places you can travel to, including Ana Beall’s Tea Room in Westfield, New Jersey, or some high tea places in Manhattan (also child-friendly ones).   If you’re still searching around, you can make sure to visit some of the top tea houses in the world in honor of the Olympics.

So sit back, watch some of the games and make sure that you enjoy some tea!   Maybe even drink one from each part of the world?

Green Tea Bobas { Homemade }

I love Le Zoe Musings’ posts and photos but this one, I think I adore!

Boba tea (popularly known as bubble tea is delightfully tasty, gives you a bit of a pleasant surprise when you slurp up a tapioca ball (found at your local Asian food market) and is chock full of health benefits if you make it using matcha like Le Zoe Musings recommends.

Matcha green tea uses the entire tea leaf.   It is ground into a fine powder and is used for Japanese tea ceremonies.   It is also believed to have that many more health benefits since you do use the whole leaf.

Read more about Le Zoe Musings’ great blog here:

Green Tea Bobas { Homemade }

Tea Ceremony Versus Expedience

Hello, fellow tea lovers!

I wanted to do a quick post with an interesting article I just read to follow up with my blog regarding British tea ceremony.   Apparently, the British are moving away from the traditional teapot and moving more towards the tea mug, which is causing a bit of a disturbance.

What are your thoughts on the issue?   Is tea best served in a teapot, when the leaves can open and the tea made with a higher quality, or a tea mug, where a tea bag can be thrown in for efficiency and expediency?

http://www.scotsman.com/business/personal-finance/more-stories/tea_trend_makes_mug_of_tradition_1_2096837 

Source Credit:

Scotsman.com.   “Tea trend makes mug of tradition.”   Scotsman.com, 4 Feb 2012.   Web.   6 Feb 2012.

Tea Ceremony: Destination Britain

History:

Tea and Chinese porcelain came as a set to Europe at the beginning of the seventeenth century when the Dutch East India Company brought them over.   At first, the drink was not even recognized.   Thomas Garraway, coffeehouse owner, had to actually explain what this exotic beverage even was through pamphlets and advertisements.   By 1659, tea was found on every street corner, gaining popularity quickly amongst the British populace.

Children Seem Enraptured By The Idea of Tea Parties

Children Seem Enraptured By The Idea of Tea Parties

As seems to be the norm with tea history, it first began as an elite drink.   At one point, tea actually cost over $100 per pound due to travel and shipping costs.   However, cost soon went down in 1675 and started becoming available in food shops in Holland and France.   Demand immediately went up.   Between 1720 and 1750, The British East India Company’s tea import more than quadrupled.   Fleets dedicated to the delivery of tea developed.

The drink’s ability to warm the imbiber and even help cure the common cold was a huge draw.   On top of that, it was easy to make.   Drinkers would just put the tea leaves in hot water, allow it to steep and then enjoy.   The porcelain tea bowls would sometimes be shipped with the tea so the fashionable could sip in style.   This created a whole new market for tea, as Europe attempted to imitate the intricate porcelain Chinese ware.

When the railway expanded, the tea market surprisingly did not meet the demand.   This caused tea prices to go up.   As tea preparation faced new innovations, the price started going down again.   London was able to boast that they became the center of international tea trade during the first half of the 20th century.

Tea gardens flourished for a bit, where tea would be taken outside with guests.   They would be entertained by orchestras, food and, of course, the beverage of the hour.   Classes were allowed to mix at this time, rather than aristocrats keeping amongst themselves and the middle class in their own area.   However, they have since lost their popularity since World War II.

Conducting a British Tea Party:

The famous tea parties, which children seem to love to imitate with their high-end plastic-ware, are still popular to this day.   Typically, the British drink black teas served with milk and light snacks.   Stronger teas are served with lots of milk, sugar and served in a mug, a style called builder’s tea.   Some people drink six cups of tea a day or more and some employers even allow tea breaks.

There is a difference between afternoon tea and high tea!   First, we will focus on general tea protocol.

–          Tea is normally drunk from a mug.   However, if there is an event that is even slightly formal, porcelain cups and saucers are used.

–          The tea kettle is brought to a boil and the water is transferred into a tea pot.

–          Water is swirled in the tea pot to warm the pot, then thrown out.

–          Usually, black loose tea is used, though sometimes tea bags are substituted.

–          Water is added to the tea and a tea cosy is placed on top in order to keep the tea pot warm.

–          Milk can either be added to the tea cup before the tea is poured or after, depending on the preference of the guest and the host.   It is a matter of debate if this changes the taste or not.

–          A tea strainer is placed on top of the tea cup before the tea is poured in order to catch the tea leaves.

–          Lemon slices (not wedges) can be added to the tea if desired.   However, do not add a lemon to tea with milk already in it.   It will curdle the milk and result in sour-tasting tea.

–          When drinking the tea at a table, it is only proper to lift the tea cup, not the saucer.   The cup is placed back on the saucer between sips.

–          When drinking tea in a chair, hold the saucer in the non-dominate hand and the cup in the dominate hand.   The cup and saucer are held at waist-height or in the lap when not being enjoyed.

–          While holding the tea cup, the thumb should be at the six o’clock position and the index and middle finger at the twelve o’clock position.   The pinky is gently raised for balance.   Never loop your fingers around the handle, nor hold the cup in your hands.

–          When stirring the tea, do not swish the spoon around, nor leave the spoon in when finished.   Place it on the right hand of the saucer.

Afternoon tea is a tea served in lieu of dinner, taking place between 3:00PM and 5:00PM.   Because of social changes and busy work schedules, afternoon tea is more for special occasions rather than a regular event.

Of course, tea is still served during afternoon tea.   It tends to be the black, loose tea served in the tea kettle.   However, the snacks are presented on a three-tier stand.   The first stand holds the scones.   The second one, the savories and tea sandwiches.   Finally, the third stand holds the sweets.   The food is eaten in order of tier.

High tea, also known as “meat tea,” is a heartier meal served typically between 5:00PM and 7:00PM.   Rather than the snacks and finger foods, meat dishes are served.   The meal got its name since the meal was served at a high table.

Photo Credit:

Arlington Mama.   18 April 2011.   kids-tea-party.JPEG, 1 Feb 2012.   JPEG.

Source Credit:

Squidoo.   “The Ceremony of Tea: English Style.”   Squidoo.com, 2012.   1 Feb 2012.   Web.

Victorian Bazaar.   “The Tea Tradition: A History of Tea Time.”   Victorian Bazaar, 2000.   1 Feb 2012.   Web.

Wikipedia.   “British Tea Culture.”   Wikipedia, 30 Jan 2012.   1 Feb 2012.   Web.

Wissotzky Tea.   “Ceremonies and Culture.”   Wissotzky Tea, 2007.   1 Feb 2012.   Web.

Tea Ceremony: Destination Russia

History:

Tea was introduced to Russia in the mid-1600s when the Chinese ambassador to Moscow of the time made a gift of tea to Tsar Aleksey Mikhaylovich.   Russia was trying to establish trade with China and tea soon became popular.   In 1558, Tsar Ivan IV provided the Stroganov merchant family possession of Siberia.   However, the only clause was that the family had to occupy a vast region.   The Cossacks, who acted as protection for the tsars, started establishing communities.   When Russian explorer Deshnev reached the Pacific coast in 1645, Russia and China had a boarder dispute.   Thus, the Treaty of Nerchinsk was drafted and signed in 1689, allowing a common boundary line between China and Russia and allowing trade caravans to pass peacefully.

The trade route was difficult, since the road was over mountainous terrain and the journey took over 16 months.   Thus, tea prices were very high and was a luxury only afforded to royalty and the very wealthy.   In the 1700s, tea prices went down a little, allowing laymen to start drinking the amazing beverage.   The trade caravans ceased to exist when the Trans-Siberian Railroad was completed in the 1900s.   Now, tea and vodka are the two primary beverages in Russia.

Russians took to tea because it was warm and hearty, preferring stronger, darker brews that are sweetened with sugar, jam or honey.

A samovar and podstakanniki were both beautiful and functional.

A samovar and podstakanniki were both beautiful and functional.

Intricate samovars, an adaptation of the Tibetan hot pot, was both a heater and a source to boil water.   Tea is sipped from podstakanniki (under the glass): silver holders which hold the hot tea glass.

Conducting a Russian Tea Ceremony:

Russian tea is typically comprised of two or three types and flavors, brewed dark and in separate pots.   When mixed in the cup, additional water is added to dilute the stronger brew.

The teapots are designed to sit onto of one another with the bottom pot holding the hot water.   The next pit will be for very dark tea.   Finally, the highest pot holds herbal or mint-flavored tea.   This saves space and allows the tea to stay hot longer.

The samovar has become a focal point in the Russian household, acting as both a functional item and a beautiful centerpiece for social gatherings.   It would be used as a sort of bragging right, allowing guests to admire the ornate one.

Women serve the tea to family and guests.   It is served at all meals and pretty much and time of the day.   Sometimes, you can find street vendors with samovars marketing cups of hot tea to tourists.

Photo Credit:

Kilu.de.   2011.   samovar_P1070701_big.JPEG, 26 Jan 2012.   JPEG.

Source Credit:

DeLaine, Linda.   “Tea Time in Russia.”   Russian Life, 2012.   26 Jan 2012.   Web.

Tea Ceremony: Destination Tibet

History:

Tibetan tea was helped along by the English colonists of India.   Despite the high temperatures and less-than-par living conditions, colonists refused to give up their tea time.   Drinkers can still notice the large divide in class when it comes to drinking tea.   At trains and stations, the drink is served in clay cups that are shattered after they are used to ensure than no one of a lower caste has drunk from the same cup.

Tibetan tea is not the typical tea that Americans are used to.   Rather than imbibe with with sugar, cream and a bit a lemon, shepherds tend to drink their salted tea with a bit of yak’s butter.   The tea is served with a flat cake of ground parched barley or corn, mixed with buckwheat that is then kneaded into balls.

Yak Butter Is Used in Tibetan Tea

Yak Butter Is Used in Tibetan Tea

The tea, rather than a tea leaf or a tea bag like we are used to, are found in bricks.   This is due to the altitude of the mountains and the difficulty of regular tea delivery. The tea is simply broken off and allowed to brew for a few hours.

According to Father E. R Huc, author of Souvenirs d’un voyage dans la Tartarie, le Tibet et la Chine, there are two types of tea ceremonies found in Tibet.   One is more for a small group of lamas distributed by a kind pilgrim.   The other is the general tea, which can be offered to more than four thousand people gathering for major celebrations.   Needless to say, this is highly costly.

Tea is considered a sacred offering, the only place in the world to consider it so.   However, it is also a part of general hospitality and should not be readily refused if one wishes to remain polite.

Conducting a Tibetan Tea Ceremony:

The Tibetan tea ceremony, also known as Po-cha, is not as spiritual as the Japanese or Chinese tea ceremonies discussed thus far.   Instead, they were more used as a way to keep warm during the harsh winters in the mountains.   It is believed that the butter keeps one warm and the hot drink only enhances this property.

Guests are required to drink at least three cups of this tea in order to not be rude.   A pot is kept on all day, making it easy to get a hold of this beverage quickly.   To avoid any bad luck, bowls that the tea is sipped from must be filled to the brim.

Photo Credit:

True Wild Life: All About Wild Life.   8 April 2011.   yak.JPEG, 19 Jan 2012.   JPEG.

Source Credit:

Brochard, Gilles, Anthony Burgess, Alain Stella, and Catherine Donzel.   The Book of Tea.   Trans. Deke Dusinberre.   Paris: Flammarion, 2005.   Print.

Hasu Tea.   “Tibetan Tea Ceremony of Po-Cha.”   Hasu Tea, 2006.   19 Jan 2012.   Web.

Tea Ceremony: Destination Japan

History of the Japanese Tea Ceremony:

The Japanese tea ceremony is highly ritualistic.   The first records mentioning a tea ceremony was in the eighth century, though it probably did not look like the modern-day tea ceremony.   Buddhist monks came out with a book called Cha Ching in order to teach how to properly prepare the tea and use the tea vessels correctly.   Today, it is thought that this book helped shape the tea ceremony we now know.

Tea was not readily available to all, being mainly a medicinal drink that later evolved into a drink for the noblemen.   Because of the rarity of the beverage, rules and regulations were set on how to drink the tea.   In 1187 Myoan Eisai, a Japanese priest, traveled to China to study philosophy and religion.   When he came back, he founded Zen Buddhism and built the first temple of the Rinzai sect.    Some think that he was the first to start cultivating tea for religious reasons rather than medicinal.   He suggested grinding the tea leaves before adding them into the boiling water, known as matcha tea.

Japanese Woman in a Kimono Making Tea

Japanese Woman in a Kimono Making Tea

The monk met with hostility with the new religion he was introducing, putting him and the tea ceremony at risk.   However, he was able to gain protection from the newly converted Kamakura shogunate and was able to keep writing about the tea ceremony.   He wrote a book called Kissa Yojoki (“Tea Drinking Is Good for Health”), in which he cites various health reasons to drink tea, including curing loss of appetite, paralysis, boils and sickness from tainted water.    Tea popularity grew as more people heard about its amazing properties.   The samurai class specifically loved the tea ceremony and spread the popularity further.

When the Kamakura shogunate in 1333, a new class of people came about called the Gekokujou.   These noblemen were also enraptured by the idea of tea ceremonies and decided to turn it into a type of game with their friends.   The game Toucha challenges drinkers to distinguish between genuine teas and other lower quality teas.   People would place bets and the winners would get expensive prices, adding to the excitement of the tea party.

At first, each person was provided a tea-cup.   Soon, the tea ceremony parties grew from twenty to thirty to even one hundred people at a time.   It would be impossible to provide each person a tea-cup, so attendees would either drink from the same tea-cup and pass it to their neighbor, or they would pass a tea bowl.   This also helps to reaffirm the close ties that attendees have with one another.

Tea ceremonies were scaled down again to be for smaller, more lavish groups in a more simplified setting.   Zen priest Murata Shukou dedicated his life to the Zen-like tea ceremony and offered instruction to those who wished to learn more.   He wanted to serve the tea to his guests, rather than have another, creating an intimate bond with his guests.   Simplicity, sober-looking colors, intimacy and types of utensils were all important to Shukou.   He became the first chanoyusha, a professional teacher of the tea ceremony.

A wabi-suki is also a teacher of the tea ceremony but he also focuses on faith in the performance of the tea, an ability to act with decorum and excellent practical skills.   A meijin has the qualities of a wabi-suki but is also a collector of fine Chinese tea utensils.

The tea ceremony is kept Zen-like and low-key as it was originally designed.   Highly ritualistic, the tea ceremony is both complicated, yet simple.

Conducting a Japanese Tea Ceremony:

In order to conduct a Japanese tea ceremony, one needs to concentrate on steps that are simple in their ideas, yet complicated in their execution.   You will need:

A tea kettle

Tea cups (if serving the tea in cups, rather than a tea bowl)

A tea bowl (if serving the tea in a communal bowl)

A tea bowl containing the unprepared matcha tea

A tea scoop to scoop the matcha tea

Bamboo ladle for the water

Bamboo whisk to mix the tea

Bamboo rest for the tea kettle lid

Cleaning basin for guests

A wooden stand

Tatami mats (straw mats)

A fine silk cloth the cleanse the tea bowl

A tea cloth to clean the items

Decorations for the room (flowers, candles, paintings, etc)

Sweets to munch on

–          Be sure to aspire to a proper tea ceremony.   If you do decide to conduct one, make sure that you are dedicated to doing so.   You will need to prepare everything ahead of time, display any flowers in a way that they compliments nature, evoke warmth during the winter or coolness during the summer, prepare for any rain if you have it outdoors, make an inviting bowl of tea for your guests and attend to them.   Your guests are highly important and should feel as such.

–          There are four principles of a tea ceremony that you should try to meet.   The wa (harmony), kei (respect), sei (cleanliness of soul and body), and jaku (tranquility) should be on your mind the entire time.

–          It is recommended to cure the tea pots and the tea cup that you will be using.   Place loose tea into the tea-pot with boiling water and let it sit for the day.   To cure the tea cups, put boiling tea into a large bowl and put the tea cups into it for a day.   This allows the tea oils to fill the tea cups and tea-pot.   However, a typical tea ceremony is with a tea bowl instead.   We will be discussing how to conduct a ceremony using a tea bowl, rather than individual cups.

–          Find a nice, quiet room to have your tea party.   If you can, have it outside in a garden.   The Zen nature of the garden will compliment the ceremony.

–          While tea ceremony rooms are typically decorated in a certain way, the main idea is to create a warm, welcoming environment for your tea ceremony.   Candles and flowers can add a touch of peace to the room.   Just be sure to keep everything simple.   Your guests will be kneeling, so a tatami mat is encouraged.

–          Prepare the tea room before your guests come in.   You should bring in your tea set, tea pot, a stone basin for guests to cleanse themselves, a wooden stand to hold everything, your sweets you plan to serve, a bowl to hold the matcha, a portable hearth to keep the tea pot warm and a silk cover for the bowl holding the tea.

–          Invite your guests to the tea room by ringing a gong during the day, or a bell during the night.

–          Have your guests wash their hands and mouth using the fresh water in the basin.   Guide them to the mat after they are cleaned.

–          Bring in the tea bowl with the matcha.   You should have the tea scoop resting across the bowl.   Also bring in the tea whisk and tea cloth.   Offer your guests some sweets to munch on while they talk.

–          Bring in the waste water bowl, the bamboo ladle and the bamboo rest for the kettle lid.   Offer your guests more sweets.

–          Use the silk cloth to cleanse the tea container and the tea scoop.

–          Ladle some hot water into the tea pot and clean the whisk.   When you are finished with the process, empty the tea bowl and wipe it with the tea cloth.

–          Place three scoops of tea per guest into the tea bowl using the scoop.   Be sure to lift both the scoop and tea container while doing this.

–          Ladle hot water from the kettle into the tea bowl.   There should be enough water to create a thick liquid with the whisk.

–          Return unused water to the kettle using the ladle.

–          Pass the bowl to your first guest.   The guest should bow when receiving the tea.   Rotating the bowl is a sign that the guests are admiring the bowl.   Finally, the guest should drink from the bowl, clean the rim and pass it to the next guest.

–          After all guests have had some tea, take the bowl and rinse the tea scoop and whisk.   Finally, clean the tea container and offer it to the guests to admire.

Photo Credit:

Let’s Learn Japanese.   17 July 2011.   japanese_tea2[1].jpeg, 3 Jan 2012.   JPEG.

Source Credit:

eHow.   “How to Conduct a Japanese Tea Ceremony.”   eHow.com, 2012.   Web.   3 Jan 2012.

The Japanese Tea Ceremony: Find Anything You Need to Know About Preparing Matcha the Japanese Way.   “History of the Japanese Tea Ceremony.”   Japanese-tea-ceremony.net, 2011.   Web.   3 Jan 2012.

Williams, Sarah.   “A Chinese Tea Ceremony: The Art of Drinking and Serving Tea.”   FoodEditorials.com, 2012.   Web.   3 Jan 2012.

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