Tea culture

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hourdedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
                                                                            ————Henry James

A common culture between China and the UK is drinking tea. Being an old and traditional beverage, tea was first grown in China and then spread to other countries and has always been liked by people all over the world. A common Chinese saying runs, “When we get up in the morning, the first things we should get ready are firewood, rice, edible oil, salt, soy, vinegar and tea,” which demonstrates tea is a necessity of life in China.

Chinese tea drinking customs:

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The Chinese people, in their drinking of tea, place much significance on the act of “savoring.” “Savoring tea” is not only a way to discern good tea from mediocre tea, but also how people take delight in their reverie and in tea-drinking itself. Snatching a bit of leisure from a busy schedule, making a kettle of strong tea, securing a serene space, and serving and drinking tea by yourself can help banish fatigue and frustration, improve your thinkingability and inspire you with enthusiasm. Whenever guests visit, it is necessary to make and serve tea to them. Before serving tea, you may ask them for their preferences as to what kind of tea they fancy and serve them the tea in the most appropriate teacups. In the course of serving tea, the host should take careful note of how much water is remaining in the cups and in the kettle. Usually, if the tea is made in a teacup, boiling water should be added after half of the cup has been consumed; and thus the cup is kept filled so that the tea retains the same bouquet and remains pleasantly warm throughout the entire course of tea-drinking. Snacks, sweets and other dishes may be served at tea time to complement the fragrance of the tea and to allay one’s hunger.(http://news.t0001.com/2010/0927/article_114419.html)

British tea drinking customs:

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Afternoon tea: this is the one that comes to mind when people think of British tea ceremonies. Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is often credited with the invention of the tradition of afternoon tea in the early 1840’s.  (http://www.theballantynehotel.com/documents/2012AfternoonTeaMenu_010.pdf ) In those days only the wealthy could afford to buy tea. They would invite guests to their houses and the tea-drinking ceremony would begin.  An English-style afternoon tea is traditionally served between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and typically lasts about one and a half to two hours. Traditional afternoon tea consists of a selection of dainty sandwiches (including thinly sliced cucumber sandwiches), scones served with clotted cream and preserves. (http://www.tea.co.uk/)

Generally speaking, both Chinese and British tea culture were initiated in high social class and filtered into the daily life of people of all social ranks and classes. Both Chinese and Britons consider tea a traditional and natural beverage that could bring them relaxation and enjoyment and like to drink tea at parties and feasts.

Do you want to try a cup of Chinese tea in Chinese style in the afternoon next time?

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