I love Chinese tea and tea sets! Here's a lovely Malaysian hand crafted set . I love the deep blue glaze inside the cups and the textures on the tray which has been imprinted with leaves.
In contrast, here is a delicate little blue and white porcelain Gaiwan or 'Chong' (lidded bowl) and pitcher set from Hong Kong.
I learnt a little about the art of making Chinese tea when I lived in Hong Kong. Here are some basic steps to making a good cup.
First you must choose your tea! Green, white, yellow, red, black, or oolong; the variety is enormous!
I've chosen a Jasmine Green Tea and have heated the water - filtered is best. Having first warmed the tea ware, I measure out a scoop of tea leaves and place these gently into the pot with bamboo tea tools. The leaves need space to unfurl so don't pack too tightly; the pot should be about one fifth full.
Now water is poured onto the leaves - the temperature of the water will depend on the type of tea. This is below boiling point - as a general rule use a lower temperature for greener, smaller leaf tea and a higher temperature for browner, tightly rolled tea.
Now, using the lid, I'll pour away the first water. This will remove the bitter taste.
Next I refresh the leaves with more hot water and allow to steep a little - not too long as the tea will be astringent and bitter. You can adjust the timing or use less tea to suit your taste. The tea is transferred to the pitcher, again using the lid to retain the leaves in the pot, so that they can be re-steeped for a second and third brew.
Here is a tea pot bought many years ago from the Ming Village factory in Singapore. It's a replica of a piece from the Chinese Ming or Qing dynasty (not sure which) and it has a beautiful, hand painted blue and white phoenix design. Sadly its little matching tea cups have all been all broken over the years by our various not-so-agile cats!
A glass pot is ideal for this lovely Flowering Fairy tea. These are the little balls shown above which bloom when hot water is added!
Another little cup and a pretty
black and white tea pot.
As a change from Chinese Tea I like to make my own infusions with a handful of chopped fresh mint or some grated ginger (good for sore throats).
Fragrant Lemongrass also makes a delicious infusion which can be sipped hot or cold. Here is the recipe:
Take 2 or 3 Lemongrass stalks, remove the tough outer layers and slice into small pieces. Place in a saucepan with a kaffir lime leaf (fresh or dried) and 500 mls of water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to stand for a further 5 minutes, strain the liquid and either serve hot, or allow to cool first, before chilling and serving as a lovely refreshing drink.