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The art of drinking and serving tea is an important and special event in China. It is a time to relax and enjoy the taste and the smell of the tea.
The Chinese tea ceremony is all about the tea. The smells and taste are the most important parts of the ceremony, so the rules for making and pouring the tea are not always the same.
In most areas of China the tea is made in small clay teapots. The pot is rinsed with boiling water and then the tea leaves are added to the pot using chopsticks or a bamboo scoop. The tea leaves are rinsed in hot water in the pot and then hot water is added to the leaves to make the tea.
The temperature of the water is important. It needs to be hot but if it is too hot it can spoil the taste. The art of preparing and making tea is called Cha Dao.
In less than a minute, the server pours the tea into small narrow cups but he doesn't pour one cup at a time. Instead the cups are arranged in a circle and the server pours the tea in all of them in one go.
He fills the cups just over half way. The Chinese believe that the rest of the cup is filled with friendship and affection.
The server passes a cup to each guest and invites him or her to smell the tea first. You should thank him by tapping on the table three times with your finger. Next each guest pours their tea into a drinking cup and they are asked to smell the empty narrow cup. Finally they drink the tea.
It is most polite to empty the cup in three swallows.
When you drink tea in a teahouse or restaurant is it called Yum Cha, yum is to drink and cha is tea.
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