It’s no exaggeration to say that tea has been a part of Chinese culture since antiquity — with a history stretching back as far as the Han dynasty in the 3rd century BC, Chinese tea culture has evolved over the centuries to become a refined art form. With such a rich history, it’s no wonder that the best way to enjoy tea from China is to follow the traditions of this ancient culture.

The Many Varieties of Chinese Tea

When it comes to tea, the question of origin matters — just like with wine, beer, or coffee, you can’t fully appreciate the flavor profile and nuance of tea without first understanding the type, origin, and flavor notes of the particular variety you’re drinking. Chinese tea is known for its varied range of flavors and styles, whether you’re looking out for a smoky green tea full of tannins, a subtly sweet black tea, or a delicate and floral white tea.

Making the Perfect Cuppa

A key part of enjoying tea from China is learning to make it the right way. Although it may seem daunting at first, making the perfect cup of tea isn’t actually that complicated. It all starts by paying attention to brewing temperatures — green tea should be brewed in hotter water, while black and oolong tea should be brewed in cooler water. The Chinese method of brewing tea also leaves enough room for creativity. For example, you can use multiple infusions to adjust the strength of your tea, giving you greater control over the flavor.

Using the Right Tea Set

From porcelain teapots, cups and saucers to matcha sets, Chinese tea sets are often works of art in their own right. The type of tea set you choose will depend on the type of tea you’re drinking. Traditional teapots made of porcelain or clay are best for enjoying oolong, black, green, and white teas, while matcha sets with whisks and chashaku sticks are ideal for making ceremonial matcha tea.

Respecting Tea Culture

The most important thing to remember when taking part in Chinese tea culture is to respect the traditions – this is all part of what makes Chinese tea so special. Taking the time to savor the flavor and aroma of Chinese tea can be a really rewarding experience, one that can be enhanced by understanding that brewing tea is more than just a physical process – it’s also a mental one. Involve your friends and family in the tea-drinking experience, and don’t forget to take a few moments to appreciate all the effort that goes into making a good cup of tea.