The methods of drinking tea has changed several times since the Han and Tang dynasties. The general methods are described below.
1. Brewing tea:
The tea dust is brewed directly in teapots. This method was most popular before the Tang Dynasty. Lu Yu introduces the whole process in detail in the Book of Tea. First, grind the tea cakes into dust with a tea roller, then pour choice water into a teapot. Brew it on a charcoal fire, and add the tea dust when the water is almost boiling. The tea and water would blend with each other. Foam appears when the water boils for the second time; the foam is called bomo. Lu Yu regarded it as the cream of tea, which should be ladled out and kept in an inert jar. Tea and water further blend together, and waves appear when the water boils for the third time; homo is then added to the teapot. The resulting liquid is called Jiufei or Yuhua. When the cream becomes even, the tea is ready to Serve.
This method came into being in the Tang Dynasty, and became popular in the Song Dynasty, when people did not brew tea in teapots. Grind teacakes into powder, and then make the tea in bowls with gently boiling water. The tea and water should also blend, so special attention should be paid to the teapot brush. the utensil for stirring tea. Most of the brushes are made of bamboo, although they can also be made of iron, silver and gold- The quality and quantity of foam is determined by the brushes shape and one's stirring skill. Pour the water into a tea bowl, and strike the bowl and strike the bowl hard with the brush. Tea and water would blend, and homo would appear gradually, looking like piles of white clouds or snow. The quality of tea should be judged by whether foam appears soon and water waves appear late. A tea with white foam, and its water waves appearing late without dispersing is regarded as the top-grade one, and tea devotees determine victory accordingly. It has been recorded that the tea foam stirred by a tea devotee of the Song Dynasty looked like white clouds or snow piling above the bowl. In recent years, tea enthusiasts have been studying this method, and they can also make foam rise above the bowls, but the foam is not like clouds, and caves in the middle. This might due to the shape of the teapot brush and the method of stirring tea, which arc different from those of the ancients. The present Japanese tea ceremony also adopts this method. However, the tea dust is fine enough, and the stirring force is not strong enough. As a result, green tea only looks like green flecks floating on the water.
3. Dripping flower tea:
This method was created by Zhu Quan in the Ming Dynasty. The tea made this way had special fragrance and artistic effect. Put the buds of plum blossoms, sweet-scented osmanthus and jasmine together with tea dust into a bowl, and speed the opening of the buds with steam. You may enjoy its color, fragrance and taste simultaneously, and it is also a feast for the eyes.
4. Semi-made tea:
Add walnuts, melon seeds, pine nuts and other dry fruits to the tea, and pour hot water. Tea enthusiasts used to enjoy themselves by picking, brewing and drinking semi-made tea on mountains and plains.
5. Made tea:
This well-known method has been used from the Ming and Qing dynasties to the present. Although it is simple and convenient,great differences exist between various regions and varieties of tea.It takes different times to make red tea (known as black tea in the west), green tea and scented tea, and their optimum water temperatures are also different. Green tea is delicate, so the water temperature should not be high. For example, longjing tea would become tasteless after pouring hot water on it two or three times.Red tea is hard, and the blades are thick, so it takes a longer time to make it. Scented tea requires moderate temperature and time.People who really understand tea would not only make tea to drink; they would first appreciate the shape of the tea, and determine its variety and production area by appearance and smell. Various teas have different shapes. Longjing dried tea is elongated, pekoe is needle-shaped, and pearl tea looks like round peals.s Their appearance in the water is also different. Some look like green vines hanging upside down, and some falls to the water bottom. For example, hirtellous clover-shrub root looks like a golden ring,while Huangjingui is orange, and looks like gold.
The made tea method requires one to pour skillfully. Tea makers with excellent skills can go the rounds, pouring the tea evenly from a teapot into a dozen cups on a plate without any spillage.
As an art, tea-drinking requires a special environment. In ancient times there were many participants in large tea parties and imperial tea feasts. For example, emperors Kang Xi and Qian Long of the Qing Dynasty held top-grade tea feasts in the Hall of Supreme Harmony in the Forbidden City, and there were thousands of participants at each feast. However, according to the theory of traditional Chinese tea ceremony, it is unnecessary to have very many participants. The theory required one to drink tea in elegant environment, such as by clear springs or in bamboo groves on mountains, in ancient temples and small pavilions, or in one's own garden while appreciating flowers, snow or fish. Many artists of the Ming Dynasty painted such environments. For example,the painting Tasting Tea drawn by Tang Yin depicts some tea devotees drinking tea in a bright hay-thatched hall surrounded by ancient trees and a growth of green plants under bamboo fences on a lofty green mountain. In the Ming Dynasty, most tea enthusiasts built teahouses in their own courtyards and villas. They would bum incense to purify the air in the room, and wash all the tea sets before drinking, and then invite Mends to drink tea while writing poems, painting or having a long talk under the moon. Generally speaking, the tea's quality, the drinkers' moral quality and the environment should harmonize. People could let nature take its course while awhole family or a couple drink tea at home. Li Qingzhao, a femaleci poet of the Song Dynasty, liked drinking tea. Most of her popular verses were miserable, sad and gloomy. However, she had a good and perfect family when she was young. The couple often drank tea while writing poems, and the verses written by her at that time were full of happiness. Her husband Zhao Mingcheng was an epigraphist, and was of great attainment in Ms appreciation of ancient utensils, but he could not compare with Li Qingzhao in drinking tea and writing poems. Li often burst with laughing, and even spilled the tea in her mouth onto her clothes, an action which did not agree with feudal custom. Tea devotees advocated drinking tea in a natural and harmonious environment.