Chinese Tea

Chinese tea is a generic term for any tea originating from China.

China is one of the main producers of tea, and there are many varieties of Chinese tea. China produces Green Tea, which is non-fermented tea, as well as Black Tea, which is fully-fermented and Oolong Tea, which is semi-fermented.

Amongst the varieties of Chinese Tea is also White Tea, another non-fermented tea made from young leaves, and Scented Tea, which is any tea infused with a fragrant flower. Traditionally, scented tea is made from jasmine flowers. Chinese tea also includes Ginseng Tea, made from the ginseng root.

Some of the more well-known varieties of Chinese Tea include Gunpowder Tea (a Green Tea) and Tiguanyin (a variety of Oolong Tea) and Jasmine Tea (a scented tea).

Chinese tea water temperatures and brewing times

Each type of Chinese tea has its own ideal water temperature and brewing times. The ideal water temperature and brewing times are important as some varieties have a more delicate taste and others. Using over-heated water for too long may destroy its more subtle flavors.

For White tea, the water should be 185-195°F. The tea should be brewed for 1-2 minutes.

For Scented teas, the water should be boiled to 195-205°F. The tea should be brewed for ten seconds.

Green teas have been processed to capture and preserve its freshness. The water therefore should not be too hot. The recommended temperature is 165-185°F. The tea should be brewed for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Oolong and Black teas should use water that has reached boiling point - that is, 212°F. The tea should be brewed for 15 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the strength desired and, in the case of Oolong Teas, the level of its fermentation.

Preparing Chinese tea

There are three methods of preparing Chinese Tea.

Conventional method

The conventional method is quite straight-forward. All that is required is a teapot and cups for serving.

To serve Chinese tea using the conventional method, the required amount is placed in a teapot and half-filled with hot water. The lid is placed on the teapot and the teapot is rocked gently in a circular motion to warm the teapot and ready the tea leaves. The water is then expelled.

For white or green teas, simply use the hot water without the tea leaves in the pot.

After the teapot has been rinsed, water that has reached the ideal temperature should be poured into the tea pot and over the leaves. The tea should be allowed to brew for the requisite time before serving.

Gungfu method

The gungfu method is the method for tea connoisseurs. It is the best method if a drinker wanted to taste the all the subtleties of a Chinese tea.

Only a small amount of tea is used, along with a Yixing teapot or a Gaiwan (traditional Chinese lidded pot). Yixing teapots are made with Yixing clay, which is known for producing teapots that can improve the taste, texture and aroma of tea.

The gungfu method is recommended for experienced drinkers and only if high-quality Chinese tea is used.

Tall glass method

The tall glass method is the easiest method for preparing Chinese Tea. Simply place the tea leaves at the bottom of a tall glass, and pour water. This method is recommended for green or white teas.

Read all about Gong-Fu Cha, the Chinese tea ceremony.