As a half-blood Chinese decent, =^_~= it’s a satisfying experience to walk on the very land where our family’s first men walked centuries ago. This will be my first blog post regarding my recent trip to Beijing focusing on my favourite thing and the second most consumed liquid in the world – TEA! ❤
To give you a bit of my background regarding my love of tea, I used to be an obsessed coffee-drinker. Hot or iced, espresso or latte, taking a minimum of five cups a day. Then my obsession suddenly stopped for half a year. Then when I had coffee again after hiatus, my body started rejecting it. It’s not the caffeine that my body starts to reject, probably some other substance that coffee has.
That life changing event made me switch to my next obsession – TEA! Yay!
To make the most out of my trip, I made sure that I never miss the opportunity to experience the famous “Chayi” or “Art of Tea”, commonly known as the tea ceremony, in the very capital of China.
I went to the little teashop within the grounds of Temple of Heaven. It is not hard to miss. It can be found before you leave the grounds, just beside the entrance/exit gate. It’s also easy to recognise because of the round arch popular in Chinese homes and the entrance is filled with tea mugs, teapots and anything about tea!
Tea has been part of the Chinese culture as long as history could trace back. Tea is not just a beverage or a hot drink to warm up on a winter season. The ceremony is practiced in every possible reason you could think of. May it be to pay respect, to show gratitude, to ask for an apology or to celebrate an occasion. Aside from this, tea is consumed for health purposes. Its medicinal effect is probably the secret of Asians for being slim, youthful looking skin, having long life and less health complications as they grow old.
I’m going to share with you the steps of the tea ceremony I experienced during my trip. =^_~=
Small teapots made of clay and glass are used in a tea ceremony. They say that this is one of the secrets of a good tea because of the environment it provides when brewing.
Since Fruit Tea is the most flavourful, tasty and very enjoyable among the teas I tried during the ceremony, I’ll be using it as the example to show you the process. Fruit tea, made of mixed dried berries and other fruits, is passed on by the tea master to be appreciated by the guests.
Fruit Tea‘s medicinal properties greatly helps in digestion and bowel movement without the painful feeling you get from readily packed and bagged diet teas in the market. After steeping this particular type of tea for 4 to 5 times (without losing its flavor), you can even eat it for snack or mix it with your cereals.
To start the ceremony, the tea master warms up the clay teapot, teapot pitcher (glass) and tea cups by pouring boiling water inside and out, then rinsing it afterwards. This process is done on top of the tea washing tray to cure or cleanse the tools.
Once ready, loose leaf is strained in the clay teapot, covered with a lid and brewed in a specific time depending on the type of tea. While brewing, boiling water is poured over the teapot to allow it to be hot and helps in the brewing process.
Tea is then poured on the teapot pitcher (made of glass), which is then poured on the tall and narrow cup, one of the two cups used in the tea ceremony. The guests then sniff the aroma and appreciate the quality of tea as part of the process. The other cup is then placed upside down on top of the filled cup and guests quickly flip the cups so the tea is now on the second cup. This step is believed to bring prosperity, happiness and luck to the guests.
Finally, after a long preparation, tea can now be indulged and seconds are welcome. Teas during the ceremony are sipped slowly and its aroma is enjoyed for almost an hour before the first sip.
Sipping is also traditionally done in steps and each signifies good health for the teeth, heart and stomach. I don’t really remember all the sips though.
Another kind of tea is the Blooming or Flowering Tea. From the name itself, this flower bud blooms when immersed in water. It’s not as medicinal as the other teas, but it is very good decoration at home.
The flower comes out when the flower bud blooms underwater.
My next favourite is the Lychee Tea or the Litchi Black Tea .It is good for the stomach and anemia and a teaspoon can be reused for 3 to 4 times.
Lychee Tea can be mixed with rose petals to further enhance its flavor.
It tastes a bit sweet and exactly like Lychee! I bought a can of it that is good for months of consumption!
The next tea is the most medicianl tea I have ever encountered in my life. The Pu-ehr Tea (others spell it as Pu-re / Pu-re / Pu’er / Pu-reh) or Sexy Tea. This type of tea is dried, condensed, shaped in tablets and wrapped in paper. It is a gradually fermented and matured chinese dark tea (different from Western’s black tea) for a number of years, and just like red wine, the longer it is stored and sealed in tin cans, the greater its taste would be developed. Hence, the more medicinal it would get.
Pu-ehr or Sexy Tea is the best tea for losing weight. That’s why it is called the Sexy Tea! It is also the best tea for lowering high blood pressure, high cholesterol, controlling sugar levels of those suffering diabetes. This tea can be brewed 7 to 8 times. Unlike the fruit teas I mentioned, this tea is bland in flavour. But because of its great medicinal effects, I think it cancels it out.
The last but not the least kind of tea and is very popular worldwide is the Ginseng Oolong Tea. Popularised by Korean dramas, we all know the Ginseng is famous for treating various illnesses. Considering this fact combined with Oolong, it is easy to conclude that Ginseng Oolong Tea’s beneficial effects are doubled!
Ginseng Oolong Tea is good for the memory, energy and kidney health. This can be brewed 5 to 6 times.
The tea master also showed us the Pee Pee Boy. It is made of clay that is used to test if the water is hot enough for the tea ceremony. When the Pee Pee Boy pees when you pour boiling water on top of it, then it means you are ready to start. It doesn’t pee at all if you pour cold water. Amazing, isn’t it?