Tea and coffee bear some similarities. The energizing effect of the coffee bean plant is thought to have been discovered in Yemen in Arabia from where the Muslims spread coffee first to Italy, then the rest of Europe, and finally it was spread throughout the world. In English and other European languages, the word coffee derives from the Ottoman Turkish kahve. As for tea, there are at least six varieties of tea: white, yellow, green, oolong, black and pǔ’ěr. Just to name some: jí pǐn lóng jǐng or Dragon Well, high-grade green tea that was granted the status of luán chá or imperial tea during the Qīng Dynasty and is nowadays frequently given to very important visitors of China; a tiě guān yīn tea – a wǔ yí wū lóng or oxidized oolong tea with a creamy taste; refreshing nutty taste and aroma tea lì zǐ xiāng that translates as “fragrance of chestnut” is a green tea from the Guangdong province; cultivation of pu’er, also known as Yunnan tuó chá, can be traced as far back as the Han Dynasty and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for generations to build up internal energy and to invigorate the activity of the spleen and stomach. All teas are made from the same species of plant, but processed differently. And there are others which are not to be mistaken by a ‘herbal tea,’ or an infusion that is made from leaves, flowers, fruit, herbs, or other plant material that contains no Camellia sinensis as coffee and tea do.
The traditional way or the Chinese method of tea making is called gōng fu chá or meaning “making a tea with great skill or great efforts.” It is as much about escaping the pressures of life for a few moments as it is about enjoying every drop of a tea.
There are different procedures for different types of tea. The basic procedure looks for the right combination of amount and quality of tea leaves, quality and water temperature, brewing time, the quality and type of teapot and of teacups to make a good cup of tea. Green tea is soaked from seventy-five to eighty degrees centigrades, Taiwan oolong ninety-ninety-seven and other teas with ninety-five to boiling water.
In preparing the tea first you have to splash the tea jug and tea cups with use of a part of tea tools (bamboo) tongs, kind of small chopsticks, to manipulate the drinking cups while cleansing and warming them. In China, the water and tea is emptied over sculptures of Buddha, animals, or others that sit on a special tea table. Chinese Gong Fu natural wood material tea table with plastic tube and a built-in wastewater container requires pouring away the water used to warm the teapot, tea brewer and cups, as well to discard the first rinse of the leaves.
The tea ceremony requires a great deal of preparation and skill – like when you lead people you have to do it carefully and with skill. There is no time for hurry or shortcuts.