In modern times, there are three
major ways to drink and appreciate tea.
1. Gaiwan (cap-cup) Tea. Drinking tea with a
cap-cup is the most prevalent way adopted by imperial family, officials and
civilians. The typical illustration can be found in Viewing and Admiring the
Moon, a picture drawn by artist Leng Mei living in Emperor Kangxi's reign of
the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
2. Chaniang (Mother Tea). This has been the
most popular way adopted by ordinary people. In this method, tea is poured from
a big pot to several small cups. The typical illustration can be found in A
Spring Market in A Time of Peace and Prosperity, drawn by Ding Guanpeng
living in Emperor Qianlong's reign in the Qing Dynasty.
3. Kung-fu Tea. Developing from the method
recorded in Classics of Tea written by Lu Yu of the Tang Dynasty
(618-907), Kung-fu tea is popular in southern Fujian area and Guangdong
Province. In this method, tea is brewed with spring water. When the water is
boiling, put Wuyi tea into a Yixing pot and brew it with the boiling water, and
then pour warm water over the pot. The specialty of this method is to heat the
pot with warm water both inside and outside in order to bring out the best
quality of the tea.
As one of the tea ceremonies, Kung-fu tea
originated from the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Chaozhou Kung-fu tea, popular in
Chaoshan area of Guangdong Province and Zhangzhou and Quanzhou area of Fujian
Province, is a kind of tea ceremony which combines spirit, ritual, brewing
technique, art, and appreciation into one.
Tea sets used in Kung-fu tea are delicate,
with special brewing techniques and drinking procedure. This ceremony is not
only a pastime but also a social activity to promote friendship and greet
guests. The tea set, small and exquisite, usually comprises a pot and three
cups, sometimes two or four cups. As for the water, better use spring or well
water to brew tea. Kung-fu tea requires a special tea named Oolong, such as Iron
Kwan-yin, Asphodel, and Phoenix tea. Oolong is a kind of half-fermented tea,
amidst green tea and black tea. Only this kind of tea has the very color, scent
and flavor required by Kung-fu tea.
One should use boiling water when brewing
Kung-fu tea and bear in mind several key techniques, namely high pour (pour
water from a high level), low pour (pour tea into cups as low as possible),
scrape off the foam and clean the lid (use the pot lid to brush away the foam
floating on the water surface and then wash the lid with warm water), heat the
pot and cups, and clear up. Kung-fu tea is famous for its strong taste that is
too bitter for the first taste. But once one gets used to its strong taste,
she/he will feel unsatisfied with other tea.
The standard Kung-fu tea requires ten
special techniques, namely back fire, shrimp-palp water (water with a
temperature near boiling point), present the tea, put the tea, heat the cups,
heat the pot, high pour, low pour, scrape off the foam, and clean the lid.
Generally, there are four people involved in a Chaoshan Kung-fu tea ceremony,
including the host who handles the process. First boil water and put tea into
the pot, with an amount of 7/10 pot. Then pour the boiling water into the pot
and scrape off the foam with the lid. Use the first brewing tea to wash cups
with a purpose of creating a special atmosphere and making guests get the first
touch of the tea spirit. After washing the cups, pour in the shrimp-palp water.
Here, the tea has already brewed to a perfect state, ready to be served to
Put the four teacups in two rows, close to
one another, and pour tea in a circular motion into all the cups at the same
time until water in each cup fills 7/10 cup. Here, water in the pot is supposed
to be poured out almost completely, with only a few drops left. Then, one needs
to hold the teapot above a teacup, secure the lid with one's thumb, accelerate
towards the teacup, breaks just above the cup and let gravity draw the last few
drops of tea. Repeat that with all the cups. These two rounds of action are
known as General Guan Patrols City and Han Xin (also a general) Counts Soldiers
among local people in Chaoshan. To be qualified a skillful brewer, the amount
and color of the tea in the four cups have be the same. Finally, the host offers
the tea to guests with two hands in turn from the oldest to the youngest. The
tea-offering order should be first from the most distinguished guest to the
guest on the left hand and then to the guest on the right hand and last to the