Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Traditional Tea Set

During the 1960s to 80s, one common sight in many homes and offices would be this basket that contain a cylindrical teapot.  This tea set basically was designed to keep the tea warm for a few hours.  If you noticed the 2nd pix, the interior of the basket is lined with thick foam but is 'wrapped' with a colorful cloth. Such a setup can enable up to 2 liters of tea to be kept warm.  My teapot shown is smaller and holds about 1.5 liters instead.  I was told that in the older days, a fresh brew was made every morning and another in the afternoon.  A tray of teacups are usually located next to this tea basket. In some baskets, there are even space to store a couple of teacups.

I did ask my tea seniors if they remember how tea was brewed in such a set up.  "Easy" - I was told.  A few tablespoons of tea, and add hot water, and its ready to drink in a few minutes.  What tea do they brew?  I was told heavy roasted oolongs like TieGuanYin or Shui Hsien.  Don't people drink coffee?  Yes, mainly black sweetened coffee but its brewed and stored in vacuum flask instead of such a set up.

Brewing tea then was simple.  I believe the term 'grandpa tea' is used to describe this brewing method.  The tea leaves are perpetually soaked in the teapot and the tea will taste strong after such prolong soaking.

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