My Personal Experience: The 6 Steps to Enjoying Tea Ceremonies During Chinese Factory Visits

Jan 18, 2024 | 0 comments

Here’s why you must try a Chinese tea ceremony.

Read on to learn about my experience with this cultural tradition when visiting Chinese factories.

Pictured are Xiao Feng Wu and our son (rolling around on the sofa) from a visit several years ago.

Expect Tea When Visiting China

If you have ever visited factories in China, there’s a good chance you have sat down for tea and conversation.

Mention you like the tea?

“Here, this bag is for you to take home to enjoy.”

The Chinese are as generous as they are hospitable.

Tea can be served many different ways in China, but in much of the southern manufacturing regions it is served in the Kung Fu 功夫茶 style, around a table, piping hot in very small cups.

It truly is a ceremony for the senses.

The 6 Steps of a Tea Ceremony

The 6 Steps of a Tea Ceremony

Here are the roughly 6 steps involved:

(1) Tea and Teaware Selection

Your host will select the tea, serving vessel (larger cup where tea is brewed), and teacups.

Depending on the region and time of year, you may be served Oolong tea 乌龙茶, Tieguanyin Tea 铁观音茶 (my favourite from living in Fujian province), Dahongpao 大红袍茶, or a variety of other teas.

(2) Warming and Cleansing

The teacups and larger serving vessel are rinsed with hot water to prime the temperature (like I do with the portafilter when making espresso).

Fun fact: “tea pets” or 茶宠 are often used (see some of my pets in image 2).

They are seen as a symbol of good luck, wealth, or prosperity.

Many tea pets will change colours when boiling water is poured over them during this step.

(3) Awakening the Leaves

Leaves, awaken!

After warming the teaware, the tea leaves are put into the brewing vessel.

Hot water is poured over and discarded—usually all of the cups are given a second round of priming.

(4) The First Brew

Now more hot water is introduced to the main vessel and left to brew.

The length of time will depend on the type of tea and the host.

(5) Your First Sip

The host now pours in each cup, normally starting with guests.

Much like wine, you can take a moment to appreciate the colour and aroma.

The tea is hot so I usually sip slowly. But I have seen some just chug back the full cup as if they were taking a shot!

(6) Repeat and Enjoy

Your host will continue brewing and filling your cup.

Empty your cup and you’ll soon see it filled back up again!

Business and Tea in China

During this entire process conversation will flow

A lot of business and personal discussions happen over tea in China.

Some of my fondest memories in China happened over tea.

As a student from 2006-2010 I spent copious amounts of time in tea shops, chatting and enjoying the tea.

How about you? Have you ever experienced a tea ceremony? What stood out for you?

Disclaimer: tea experts, feel free to chime in or correct me. I’m recalling my own experiences from memory!

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