Tea Notes

Chinese tea ceremony – water, teapot, harmony

December 20, 2018

Chinese tea and tea sets have been a common sight at home as my dad always brought back tea on his numerous trips to China. I never knew the proper utility of the miniature teacups and teapots but fancied how dainty and unique they were in appearance.

The other day my mom had out on the kitchen table a dark brown clay tea set with the teacups and teapot sitting on a slatted double layered circular tray of the same material. The teacups were tiny with a clear white inner layer. I am still an amateur when it comes to brewing tea the Chinese way. There are different methods, types of teaware and symbolism behind the ceremony as a whole.

Brewing tea this way got me thinking of doing a post touching on a couple of basic aspects of the traditional Chinese tea ceremony – water, teapot, harmony. Chinese tea ceremony - water, teapot, harmony

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of spending some time in the company of Yvette, owner, and founder of Yvette Tea. She is truly passionate about providing premium quality Japanese tea and also develops delicious recipes using tea as the main component in terms of flavor. It was a truly eye-opening experience watching her brew tea using the gong fu cha style of preparation and everything about it was calm, composed, and elegant.

Chinese tea ceremony – water, teapot, harmony
Yixing clay

Unglazed clay is used traditionally in creating Chinese teapots. This is the same material used widely in Indian homes for the authentic preparation of certain dishes. The clay absorbs essences from the tea leaves which add to the enamel and shine in the inner layer of the teapot over each use.

Chinese tea ceremony - water, teapot, harmony

I adore this teapot signifying ‘blessing’ in Chinese.

In China, a clay called Yixing clay is used to make the teapots. The clay is believed to absorb toxins from both the water and the tea leaves.

Water & Tealeaves

The teapot is first rinsed with warm water. It has a typical capacity of one cup. Dry tea leaves are then scooped into the teapot 1/3 to 1/4 full using a wooden or bamboo scoop.

Heat water in a kettle with temperatures depending on the kind of tea leaves being infused.

  • Green tea – 65°C – 85°C
  • White tea – 80°C – 87°C
  • Oolong tea – 85°C – 100°C
  • Black tea & Rooibos tea – 95°C – 100°C

Fill the teapot with water allowing the water to lightly spill out. Very soon after the tea is poured out into the small teacups in order to warm the teaware. The teapot is refilled with water. The teacups are emptied of their first serving over the teapot which helps it retain its warmth. Thereafter the tea is served and drank adding 30 seconds to the brewing time of each subsequent brewing.

The host offers the teacup and it is kind to accept the tea with cupped hands.

Sometimes the ceremony starts with the burning of incense to create a relaxed space.

“Water is the mother of tea, the teapot its father and the fire is its teacher.” – Chinese proverb



  • Reply Tee January 2, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    Hi Pardesi Trotter,

    i love reading about chinese culture, especially when it comes to tea. great writing by the way!
    wish you all the best for 2019!

    • Reply PARDESI TROTTER April 18, 2019 at 4:04 am

      Hi Marius! I love Chinese tea culture as well. There are so many aspects connecting harmony and mindfulness in their manner of tea drinking. Hope 2019 has been going well for you. 🙂

  • Reply Tee Jay January 11, 2019 at 7:56 pm


    another great blogpost of yours. What camera do you use for the pictures?

    Greetings, Marius

    • Reply PARDESI TROTTER April 18, 2019 at 4:03 am

      Hi Marius! Thank you so much. For this one, I used a Canon DSLR.

  • Reply Chinese Teapots April 16, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    Highly agreed, as i know. Chinese tea need to been drank quietly, keep silence and falling in deep meditation. Good to drinking with friend and talking heart to heart. It that right?

    • Reply PARDESI TROTTER April 18, 2019 at 4:00 am

      Absolutely Umi! 🙂 Tea is great to have either in solitude or in the company of friends.

  • Reply datazione ahna December 23, 2020 at 3:03 am

    Wow, wonderful blog format! How lengthy have you been running
    a blog for? you make blogging glance easy. The whole look
    of your website is wonderful, let alone the content!

    • Reply PARDESI TROTTER January 1, 2021 at 10:34 pm

      Thank you! The blog has been running for 5 years. Your comment means a lot! 🙂

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