Create a Chinese Tea Ceremony
Looking for a new way to entertain friends? Try putting on your own Chinese tea ceremony.
Traditionally, this is an intricate performance, but we’ve created a simple breakdown of the rules. Follow the steps below to do something really special for your friends…
What you need
• Small teapot.
• A larger teapot.
• A kettle to boil water.
• Teacups without handles.
• A small wooden tray.
• A wooden or porcelain spoon.
• Wooden or bamboo teacup holders.
• Your choice of tea.
Pick your tea
You should traditionally use loose leaf green, oolong, or black tea for Chinese tea time. However, there’s no need to be limited by custom. This is all about having fun with your friends by using what you have. If you prefer, add two Lipton teabags of your choice to the pot: try Orange Passionfruit Jasmine green tea, or Spiced Cinnamon Chai black tea.
Perform the ceremony
The instructions below are a simplified version of the traditional ceremony. We’ve split them into two stages, covering preparation and the tea-serving itself.
1. Put your teabags in the small teapot, and place the pot on the wooden tray.
2. Line your small cups up on the tray.
3. Boil water in the kettle and add to your larger teapot.
4. Pour the water from the large teapot into the smaller teapot, from a height. The tray should catch any spills, but watch out for splashes of hot water.
5. Once your small teapot is full, immediately pour some of the hot water out into your small cups. This is not for tea-drinking: it is to season the cups and warm them up.
6. Now, pour the hot water inside the teacups back out over the small teapot (again, the tray will catch the water, but be careful). This is to warm the small teapot: it’s now nearly ready to serve your tea.
Serving the tea:
7. First, fill the small teapot with hot water, pouring from a height. Be careful to avoid any splashes or spills.
8. Pour tea into the small cups. Place each cup in a holder, and offer it to your guests. Guests should use both hands to take the teacup and holder from you, then pick the cup up with the fingers of their right hand. Each cup will hold 2-3 sips of tea.
9. Repeat the serving process detailed in points 7-8 again for another round of tea: this time, the infusion will be stronger.
10. Take a final round of tea if you have enough water left in your pot. The infusion will now be at its strongest.
It’s important to give thanks for your tea. This comes from the Qing Dynasty legend of Emperor Qian Long, who went out for tea with his servants while in disguise. The emperor poured tea for a servant who, instead of kneeling and bowing (which would reveal the emperor’s true identity), showed his gratitude by tapping on the table.
Today, guests should do the same by using two or three of their fingers to give the table a tap after being served. This displays their thanks to the host.
Holding a Chinese tea ceremony is a wonderful way to give thanks to friends and family. Try it out to treat your loved ones to a truly special tea-time.