Tea Culture in China

by ESP Tea Lover 30. November 2011 11:56

Tea culture in China is completely unique in the way that it is prepared, consumed as well as presented. The fact of the matter is that tea is consumed on a regular basis in China regardless of if the occasion is formal or not. The Chinese view tea as a major part of their way of life as well as their history. Chinese tea culture has developed over centuries to the point where it is very refined. In today’s day and age there are many customs that are practiced in regard to tea drinking in China.


One of the biggest reasons why tea is consumed in China is as a sign of respect. It is a common practice for a young person to offer tea to an older person in Chinese society. This is done out of respect for the older generation. In a formal occasion a younger person should never expect an older person to pour them a cup of tea. For example, a mother may pour her children tea at home but when out in public the children would pour the tea for the mother. This ritual is well regarded in Chinese society and is always practiced in formal situations. Even though china is becoming more liberal, this is till practiced all across the country.


Another time when tea is served in China is at a family gathering. The tea is the center point of the gathering as it gives families a reason to get together. In china, parents rarely see their children after they grow up and move away. That said, emphasizing tea gives them a reason to get back together. On Sundays most family restaurants in china are crowded as there are families drinking tea together. The tea drinking is a reflection of the Chinese emphasis in regard to family values.


If you have done something wrong that you wish to apologize for it would also be appropriate to pour tea for that person. Tea is seen as a way to apologize for a serious offense. You would want to include tea if you are sincerely apologizing to a sibling or spouse for a misfortune. An example of this is if a child pours tea for the parent. The child is showing that they are regretful of their actions and that they wish to apologize. Without the use of tea the apology can be considered insincere by the person receiving it.


If you are getting married in China tea is used to express thanks on the day of the marriage. In a Chinese wedding the bride and the groom will actually kneel down before their parents and serve tea to them. This is the Chinese way of showing your parents how thankful you are for everything that they have done for you in the past. After the tea is served the bride and groom will say a few kind words and the parents will drink the tea. After the tea is consumed the parents will give the bride and groom a red envelope which symbolizes good luck in the future. In a later tea ceremony you may see the bride serving tea to the groom’s parents. This symbolizes that she has become part of the family. In addition, tea at weddings in china can be used as a way for people to introduce themselves. The bride and groom may serve tea to everyone in attendance in order to get to know them a little bit better. If a family member does not drink the tea that you serve it shows that they do not want you in the family. On the other hand, if they do drink the tea it shows the highest level of acceptance.


A final tea ritual performed in China is the folding of a napkin when drinking the tea. It is believed that folding the napkin is a way to keep bad energy away from the married couple. Since tea was regarded as a daily necessity it was important to do this as bad energy would interfere with it. The other daily necessities that the Chinese observe is firewood, oil, rice, soy sauce, salt, medicine and cuisine.

The use of tea in Chinese society is very important to all. It is consumed whenever and wherever it can be. The bottom line is that the Chinese rely on tea as a way of life- without it there would be a major loss in terms of tradition and culture that has been observed in China for many generations.

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Traditions

Russian Tea Drinking Tradition

by Elena Popec 7. September 2011 09:32

Russian tea drinking tradition, along with some other Russian customs, has long been a hallmark of the country. Nevertheless, to describe the attributes of Russian tea drinking: samovar (meaning "self-boiler" in Russian), loose leaf black tea, pancakes, jam, cubed sugar, sliced lemon, cups in cup holders, porcelain set… Unfortunately, very few people drink tea in accordance with this attributes, because almost no one these days uses a samovar.

This old Russian tea drinking tradition becomes history, but still lives and breathes in Russia and around the world where Russian emigrants make their homes. Russian literature often invokes the samovar to symbolize Russian hospitality. Gathering around the table by a samovar with family and friends evokes a sense of cosines and comfort, which is an important element in our busy lives. Let me just try to formulate some of the characteristics of tea drinking, which can be classified as specifically Russian.

A real Russian tea party requires a porcelain tea set; a classical Russian tea set is "Cobalt net" of the Imperial Lomonosov’s Porcelain Manufactory. These sets are often sold in duty free shops at the international airports of Russia and in numerous souvenir shops. Contrary to popular opinion, tea glasses even in the most exclusive holders are not the most accurate representation of the Russian tea drinking tradition. Since the 18th century, people who understood the sense in life and in tea-drinking, tried to get the porcelain set.

A very specific feature of Russian tea-drinking is samovar, a vessel with boiling water. In Russian tradition, tea leaves brewed in the porcelain pot, which is placed on the top of the samovar keeping the brew hot. In most major tea drinking cultures, Chinese, Japanese and English, tea leaves steep, a brew is poured in a cup and drunk. In Russia, a brew is diluted with hot water directly in a cup, that’s why besides the standard tea set, tea party in Russia involves a samovar with boiling water.

Another important part of Russian tea-drinking tradition is a simple and obvious lemon, cut in thin slices, not wedges, since circles look beautiful on a plate and in a cup. In fact, the whole world believes that tea with lemon is a Russian invention, often called "Russian tea". 

However, the most important feature of a Russian tea party is tea itself. Of course, it should be black tea. Historically, it was Chinese tea, such as Keemun or a blend based on it "Russian Caravan" or “Russian Samovar”. Chinese tea was drunk in Russia for three centuries, and only in the 20th century adjusted traditionally established tea preferences. Nowadays, most Russians prefer a rich aroma and strong taste of Ceylon tea over subtle taste of Chinese teas. Often, both teas are served at the party, Chinese in respect to century’s old tradition and Ceylon in respect to modern tea taste.

When at the table served with samovar full of boiling water, porcelain tea set, two teapots (with Chinese and Ceylon tea), a plate with a stack of pancakes, a few fresh baked pies (with apples, cherries, cheese, cabbage and all sorts of fillings…), several kinds of jam (strawberry, cherry, blueberry, lingoberry, cloudberry, raspberry…), honey, condensed sweet milk, sliced lemon and cubed sugar, one will understand what is a true Russian made happiness. Laughing

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