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Posts Tagged ‘Chinese tea sets’

How do you steep tea? Silly question, right? You boil water and pour it over a bag and let it steep for a few Chinese Tea Setsminutes, right? Not so fast. It depends on the type of tea you’re brewing.  It also depends if you’re using a pot from a Chinese tea set or a cup.  Sure, you can heat up water in a cup in microwave and let a tea bag steep.  That works if you’re at work.  But if you’re at home and you’re entertaining, maybe you should try a new approach to making tea.  There are two ways to make tea: GongFu and conventional method. But first, make sure you have a Chinese tea set so you can make tea to begin with.

GongFu
This method is used when you’re making tea for one or a few people, not a large crowd. You’ll need tall aroma cups and tasting cups. Start by rinsing out the teapot with warm water by rocking the water back and forth and discarding the water.  Measure your tea and add to the strainer inside the teapot followed by hot water.  Cover and steep.

Traditionally, you pour the tea in tall aroma cups. Using your ring finger and thumb on the aroma cup and your index and middle finger, lift up the inverted tasting cups down on the table. Then pull the inverted aroma cup upwards. This releases air pressure allowing the tea to flow in the tasting cup. It sounds a little complicated, but it’s oh so good!

Conventional Method
The conventional method is by far easier. You still rinse the pot with warm water. You add the right amount of tea leaves, pour hot water over them, and let steep. That’s it. You are free to enjoy your tea.

The gongfu method is more aromatic. You use this method when you really want to enjoy a cup of tea.

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Tea connoisseurs say that a Yixing teapot is an invaluable tool for any tea enthusiast’s collection. The qualities that make them truly special are the clay from which they are made and the highly skilled craftspeople who create them. Yixing clay is named for the city where it is found, in the region near the city of Yixing in Jiangsu province, China. The purple clay dates back to the Song Dynasty and is typically used to make tea vessels.

While Yixing teapots are famous in China for their beauty as well as practicality, it is their ability to absorb flavors of the beverage it holds, creating a more robust flavor over time. It is said that a well-used Yixing teapot will retain so much tea flavor that after many years of use, the teapot can brew tea by just pouring in hot water without using tea leaves. Yixing teapots also distribute heat more evenly to bring out the most flavor and health benefits of tea and can keep your tea warm for an hour or longer!

Due to the porous and unglazed surface of Yixing teapots, there are special care instructions to follow. To prepare your teapot for use:

  • Remove lid and completely submerge teapot, lid, and teacups in a pot of cold water.
  • Add tea leaves into the water bath and bring everything toa slow boil.
  • Boil for 15 minutes, then let the teawares sit and cool for 2 hours.
  • Remove the teaset from the water.
  • Rinse well with hot water.
  • Add tea leaves into the teapot and fill with boiling water.
  • Let the tea sit in the teapot for 24 hours.
  • Empty out the contents and rinse again with hot water. This removes the natural, earthy aroma of the teapot and rinses awa any clay residue from inside the pot.
  • Let air dry uncovered.

To maintain and clean your Yixing teaware:

  • Use the teapot to brew tea, not as a stove-top kettle.
  • Never use in a microwave oven.
  • Do not use any soaps or detergents to clean your teapot. Rinse ONLY with water and wipe dry after each use.
  • Do not use any abrasive pads to clean the teapot.
  • Do not expose the teapot to salt or oils.
  • Never teapot in a dishwasher.
  • It is recommended to only brew one type of tea in a Yixing teapot to avoid “cross-brewing”.

You may notice red spots or white water marks two to three weeks after first use. This is normal and will help prevent rust. When properly cared for, Yixing teapots can last a lifetime.

All Yixing teapots are on sale now at AJPanda.com!

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Part of the fun of Chinese New Year is having a gathering to bring in the New Year with plenty of food, games, and even tea.  Tea has been a part of Chinese culture for over 4000 years. It’s custom to be offered tea as soon as you enter a Chinese home. It’s also customary to take at least one sip of tea, otherwise you risk offending your host.

History of Tea
Tea originally had its start in China for medicinal purposes over 4000 years ago. Legend has it that a Shien Non Shai discovered tea before 618 A.D when he took his family mountain climbing. He was thirsty when a leaf drifted on his foot. He wrung the leaf with his fingers and drank the liquid. Tea was used for medicinal purposes after that point.

It wasn’t until the Tang dynasty that tea became popular. Lu Yu wrote a book tell all book titled, “Tea Classic” and became known as the father of tea.  China’s elite—scholars, members of the royal family, dignitaries, and wealthy families drank tea.

Tea became more and more widespread throughout China’s history. During the Sung dynsasty, tea rooms were constructed and tea became more commercialized. It wasn’t until the Ming and Ching dynasties that drinking tea became more widespread to commoners.

Tea Now
Yum cha (drinking tea) is part of everyday Chinese life. When you visit a home, you should be offered tea almost immediately. The tea cup is filled up to 7/10ths full. It is said that the rest of the cup will be filled with friendship and love. You are to consume the tea in three gulps.

There are five different kinds of tea:

Black tea is what most westerners drink. Tea leaves are withered, rolled, oxidized, and dried. The leaves turn black and are packed full of flavor. This team comes from India, Sri Lanka, and Kenya. Flavor is bold and strong.

Oolong tea is tossed, bruised, tossed, and roasted and often features apricot, spices, and woody flavors.

White tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, picked early when the leaves are covered in a white fuzz. White tea is sweet and crisp, lighter than most teas.

Green tea is extra special because leaves are picked in early Spring before it gets too hot. There is very little processing so oxidation doesn’t occur, which leaves the green color.

Brick tea is green or black tea compressed and formed into bricks, easy for travel and transportation.

Tea During the Year of the Dragon
If you’re going to have friends and family over to celebrate Chinese New Year, you’ll  want to make sure you have a special Chinese teapot to make your tea for guests.  AJ Panda has Chinese teapots specifically for the year of the dragon.  Dragon Chinese tea sets are perfect for the year of the water dragon. The dragon is even blue to represent water.  If you prefer more traditional Chinese teapots, Yixing teapots or even Chinese porcelain teapots are options you can use every day, not just for New Year’s.

Prepare with your favorite Chinese New Year foods, perhaps Nian Gao or Turnip Cake to serve with white tea when your guests first arrive. Visit and share the joys of the year past, wishing away bad luck, and embracing the good fortune the water dragon brings to 2012.

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