9 May 2009

Tea Party!

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.

Serve the tea in small cups, sip and enjoy!

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.



  1. What a lovely post Caroline! I love your collection and all of your tea traditions are so informative and beautiful! You are a very good photograper and you have great style :)

  2. I really enjoyed this post... So elegant. Thanks for sharing your tea party!

  3. I like this series very much. And I love jasmine tea and Phoenix ware, I have a few pieces I have collected in my travels.

  4. This was fascinating. I love my tea.


  5. Wonderful! Thank you for inviting us to your tea party. Just what is it about teapots and teacups that's so magical, I wonder. My favorite is the black and white teapot of yours. I learned a bit about the art of making tea today. :)

    The Japanese have some complicated rituals for formal tea ceremonies. I'm too intimidated to learn, because there are so many rules to follow, like turning the picture on the cup away from you in a certain direction and such. Whew!

  6. What a nice post! I enjoy tea too (or is it two for tea?) it's such a relaxing beverage.

  7. WOW Caroline, Love tea pots, and pics. You should shoot for home magazine. I am not a big conniseur of tea, but I would love to come and drink tea with you in your beautiful garden and out of your beautiful tea cups.

  8. I found your tea making descriptions and the lovely crockery really interesting Caroline. Tea making is obviously much more of an art in the Eastern world than it is in the Western. Tea is my favourite drink. When I go into a pub in the evenings sometimes I just wished they served a nice cup of tea instead of alcohol..lol.

  9. Lovely post Caroline. The photographs are so interesting...and beautiful. I've taken part in a few Japanese tea ceremonies and though this is chinese tea, your post reminds me of the ceremonies I attended.

  10. Beautiful well composed photos...and words...this is one of my all time favorites posts of anyone...anywhere!...Simply lovely! I am enamored by the Flowering Fairy tea! Gorgeous!

  11. Wonderful post! My parents lived in Taiwan for a spell, and my dad really picked up the tea habit.

    Excellent photography!

  12. This was fascinating! Thank you!Love the tea pots and those tulips in your other post are knock-out beautiful.Oh the colors...:)


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