HOW TO HOLD CHINESE TEA CUP
Posted by Tao Wu on November 27, 2013
Glasses tea cup
At Tao Tea Leaf we hold regular tea tastings and private Gong Fu ceremonies for tea veterans and newcomers alike. When introducing people to the Chinese tea ceremony what most often strikes people is the size of the cups.
The teacups you typically find in a Gong Fu ceremony are very small, only about 35 ml. This can come as a surprise for those of us living in a time of supersized drinks, big gulps and extra large coffees. Despite the cups small size it has a power. The beauty of this system is that with each brew of the Gaiwan you may only get a few small sips. This makes the tea drinker appreciate and savor every last drop.
Even with a new found appreciation for all things small, many newcomers have questions about how to hold and drink their tea from these small cups.
To hold the cup, place it in between your index finger and thumb. Using your middle finger, gently swing the bottom of the cup away from you allowing the tea to flow into your mouth. To stop the flow, simply pull your middle finger towards your body. The elbow should remain squared away from the body.
Gender also plays a role in how one holds the cup. Traditionally men hold their cups with the remaining ring and pinky fingers held in towards their hand, while women hold their ring and pinky out away from their hand symbolizing floral beauty in full bloom.
For personal use, you can also drink directly from the Gaiwan. To do this hold the Gaiwan from the saucer buy laying it on your first four fingers and using your thumb on the top of the saucer to stabilize it. Then use the lid to gently brush the leaves to the back of the cup and sip from the front.
To fully pick up on all the subtleties and aromas the tea has to offer you must couple your sense of smell and taste. This is possible through a phenomenon called retro olfaction. This takes place when the tea drinker draws on the aromas from the back of the tongue thought the pharynx. While the tongue can only distinguish 5 properties of taste, combining the sense of smell adds hundreds of new flavour combinations. This is what truly allows you to discover the wonderful subtleties that tea has to offer.