Thursday, August 23, 2012

Three Sips

Though there are no rules for enjoying Gongfu Cha, there are "ways" that have evolved.

Gongfu teacups are very small, so that every sip is fresh. They are usually shallow and wide so that they can be held without burning your fingers. Hold the cup between your thumb and index or middle finger at he rim, then turn your hand so that the back of your hand is facing out. If you are younger than others at the table, it is etiquette to hold the palm of your left hand just beneath the cup. This is most likely a Confucian thing, but will be noticed if you are drinking tea in the Far-East. 

·1· Perceive 

The first thing to admire is the colour of the liquor, its translucence or opacity, dependending on which type of tea you're drinking. As you become familiar with the different teas, you will know immediately just by looking at it what to expect, if it is a bit strong, a little thin, just right.

·2· Fragrance

Gently wave the teacup back and forth below your nostrils, slowly inhaling the tea oils as they oxidize. Let the fragrance of the tea consume you, then holding onto the scent, invite the teacup to your lips.

·3· Three Sips

With the tea's fragrance still fresh in your senses, take a small sip and hold it in your mouth a while, allowing the tea time to perform its choreography. Different teas behave differently, interacting in unique ways, or with different parts of your mouth, perhaps with subtle elegance, or others with bold complexities. Three sips are best, especially if the tea is very hot.

Of course, the best way to enjoy tea is with others. The colour, the scent, the taste, all become secondary to the conversation with company over which it's meant to be drunk, whether it's in three sips, or in one...


  1. I like your blog very much. A great start. Your trip to the Hmong village was pretty funny. I did not buy any tea there since I had bought 3 for 110 baht the day before at the Hmong Market. Unfortunately, I was not asked to see everything for 20 baht. Maybe that was because I am old and my wife, who is Thai, may have had some very unflattering things to say to such offers. The Hmong village was a joke but an interesting joke. I worked with the Lao Hmong in refugee camps in Northern Thailand for two years and we have visited "real Hmong" villages in China. Hey, I even worked in NonKhet in Laos next to Vietnam where everyone was Hmong. My favorite Hmong village in Ban Hoi Han near Chiang Rai about one kilometer from Laos. No tourist there though and it was no joke. Develop you blog with gusto. I am in the process and tasting the five bags of super cheap tea from the Chiang Mai trip.

  2. Interesting, thanks! Ddo you live in Thailand? I often consider teaching for a year in Thailand.

  3. Thank you very much. I learned a lot with your blog. I'm Spanish, I love tea and tea culture here is scarce.