My very first Chinese Tea Ceremony

I recently got invited to a tea ceremony at Vivian’s home. Vivian is a Beijing-trained tea master based in Singapore who has recently launched her brand of organic Chinese tea.

My Chinese tea experience to date was drinking tea when I was younger with my father whenever we have Bah Kut Teh Sunday breakfasts. Bah Kut Teh is a peppery pork rib soup Teochew style popular in Singapore. My dad and I usually had the soup with Oolong tea brewed in the “gongfu” style – strong tannic tea somewhat similar to Italian espresso. I was both curious and excited as to how different the tea from the tea ceremony would be from that in our usual Sunday breakfasts.

It was 10h30am when we got to Vivian’s home. As I have arrived sweating, I was not really in the mood to try any hot tea. I was so glad that Vivian had put the air-con to a pleasant 23 degrees. Vivian unexpectedly served a cold-brewed Bright Red Robe tea, just the perfect drink to cool down!

Cold Brew

Big Red Robe Cold Brew

Vivian has laid out a beautiful tea platter with six different pieces. I instantly recognized the brewing pot and the teacups from my old Bah Kut Teh days with my old man. But the other parts were vaguely foreign to me. There was a tea caddy to pour the tea into the brewing pot, a tea filter, a serving pot to evenly distribute the tea, and sniffers (to sniff the tea).

Tea Platter

Vivian used her organic Tie Kuan Yin Oolong tea for the tea ceremony. She scooped tea from her elegant canister, funneled it into the brewing pot. Vivian would then wait a minute or two for the tea to infuse into the water. Once the tea was ready, she poured it through the filter into the serving pot, and then from the serving pot to the sniffers.

Vivian got everyone at the tea ceremony to sniff the tea, and then to place to teacup on top of the sniffer and then to flip it over before sipping tea. The flipping was undoubtedly the most fun part of the tea ceremony!

Vivian went through seven different brews with the same tea leaves. It was pretty cool to see how the taste of the tea evolves from the first brew to the seventh. I found the fifth brew to be the best, with just the right balance between the bouquet of magnolia and structure from the tannins.

A thoroughly enjoyable experience! And I so loved the cold-brewed Bright Red Robe tea that I bought a pack. It is now my go-to drink when I am writing my blog.

Tea Atelier ANNAGEE