By today, tea is consumed all over the world both following the western and the the traditional eastern style of tea preparation. Modern tea utensils found their way into Asian homes, just as well as traditional tea culture is spreading in the western world.
Which brewing style we choose depends on what is practical at the given moment and on how much time we have at hand. While in the morning hours and in the office the western style is dominant even in Asia, in our free time, drinking tea the traditional way offers a better opportunity for relaxation and insight.
Gongfu Cha, the traditional way of brewing and enjoying Chinese and Taiwanese white, green, yellow, oolong and puerh teas developed in the 14th century under the Ming dynasty in Fujian. This is a meticulous, attentive way to make tea in which high-quality loose-leaf teas are brewed in specific steps and with great care. Its objective is to attain perfection in brewing, serving and consumption. Tea is brewed in a Yixing teapot or in a gaiwan with multiple, short pourings observing and enjoying the changes in the tea’s flavor. The utensils are cleaned with boiling water, the leaves are woken up with the first pouring, then steeped shortly multiple times. Both the preparation and the consumption are parts of the ceremony.
Senchadō is the preparation and consumption style of Japanese tea, primarily gyokuro and sencha. The style was developed in the 17th century under Japan’s Edo dynasty. It is a less ritual, more informal style than Chanoyu. The style was closely connected to other branches of art and gave a strong boost to the development of local pottery art. Its objective is to prepare, serve and drink a cup of tea of natural and refined flavors. Tea is prepared in a hohin or kyusu pot, focusing on achieving a rounded, green taste. The tea leaves are not woken, as the first steep has the most intensive flavor. Having tea this way comprises both the preparation and the consumption.
Teapot – teatime, afternoon tea
Tea consumption in the west was first associated with light afternoon snacks and social life of upscale households. Tea was not the center of focus, but merely a refreshing, pleasant drink to accompany the afternoon meals, that improved digestion and also made conversations more enjoyable. Tea was prepared beforehand in bulk in a single steep, then was consumed with food and conversation. The objective was to provide the household and the guests with a pleasant, refreshing drink.
Filter mug – tea break
The aim of tea breaks was for workers in industry and offices to take short breaks at regular intervals, without drinking alcohol in these breaks. According to the research by Stanley Kent, an English professor of physiology, tea breaks reduced the errors and accidents caused by exertion and alcohol consumption. They reduced workplace monotony and ultimately improved productivity. This simplified style of tea consumption using only a tea mug and a filter plays specifically at the stimulant properties of tea, not with flavor but with efficiency in mind.