With all the stresses and strains of everyday life, it can be difficult to find the time to enjoy some simple pleasures.In China, drinking tea is something of a fine art - people take their time over brewing and consuming the tea, making it an important part of their culture.Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ceremony is all about the tea - emphasis is placed on what the tea smells and tastes like, as opposed to the actual rituals.
Brewing the tea
Loose leaf tea is traditionally brewed in clay tea pots in hot but not boiling water, as it is widely believed that if the water is too hot, it can damage the taste of the leaves. Once the tea has been poured, it is not uncommon for the pot to be topped up with more hot water and then presented to guests at their leisure.
Serving the tea
Once the tea has been brewed to the desired taste, it is time to serve - small clay cups are usually used to match the tea pot. Each cup is not topped up individually, but they are instead arranged in a circle and the liquid poured into them all at once - the Chinese only usually fill them half-way, believing the rest is filled with affection and friendship. Creating a consistent brew is believed to be down to the mastery of the server - an art that is no doubt perfected over many years!
Drinking the tea
Once everyone has been handed their cup of tea by the server, they are expected to enjoy its aroma. A typical Chinese tea ceremony sees each person tapping on the table three times as a means of saying thank you. It is considered polite to drink the tea in three sips.