Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware, Hong Kong – Part II

In continuation of my earlier post, here are some pictures taken inside the museum that reflect the tea beauty,  culture and history.

Hong Kong March 15_0329 web

Beautiful sculpted and painted ceramic  tea pot

Hong Kong March 15_0318 v

Tea pots in different shapes and colors

Hong Kong March 15_0326 web

Another set of beautifully crafted tea pots

Hong Kong March 15_0276 web

Old tea grinding wheel

Hong Kong March 15_0266 v web

Bucket to prepare cream tea

Hong Kong March 15_0265 v web

Description of the cream tea preparation

Hong Kong March 15_0278 web

Picture believed to be the earliest tea painting

Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware, Hong Kong – Part I

One of the main attractions for tea lovers in Hong Kong is the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware. It is located in the island on the Hong Kong Park.

Hong-Kong-March-15_0375-web2

Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware, the entrance door is on the center of the building

From the museum official website we have the following information: “Built in the 1840s, Flagstaff House originally served as the office and residence of the Commander of the British Forces in Hong Kong. It was converted to the Museum of Tea Ware in 1984, with a new wing, The K.S. Lo Gallery, added in 1995. Alongside its exhibitions, the Museum holds regular demonstrations, tea gatherings and lecture programs to promote ceramic art and Chinese tea drinking culture”.

The best way to get to the museum is through the metro (MTR) Admiralty station stop. On the Admiralty station take the 1C exit, turn right and follow the signs to the Hong Kong Park.

Map of the Admiralty MTR station indicating exit C1 and the museum is on the right.

Map of the Admiralty station indicating exit C1. The museum is on the right.

On the entrance of the museum there are small samples of tea to show color, shape and texture; utensils for tea brewing and tea serving. Since the building was a house/office it contains many rooms in two floors.

Hong-Kong-March-15_0247-web

One of the rooms have the traditional round tea table and benches. The displays are on the walls.

One of the rooms is for the children play. It has Tea Toys made out of wood. The idea is to start  the tea education of the children early, as a play.

Hong-Kong-March-15_0300-web

Tearoom for the children with Tea Toys to play.

Japanese Instant Matcha – Fine powder tea

What I call Instant Matcha is the fine powdered tea that is ready to be used and can be bought in bulk or in individual packages. The tea mixes very quickly with hot or cold water, milk or other types of foods.

Matcha is made by grinding whole Camellia sinensis tea leaves (except the stems and veins). The tea plants for Matcha are shade grown for at least three weeks before leaves are rharvested. The pure leaves have additional properties, flavor and aroma.

Green tea bags matcha

Japanese Instant Matcha bag

The Instant Matcha is also available in individual packages for convenience. The packages are beautiful, made with aluminum foil to avoid contamination and oxidation.

Individual bags of Matcha

Individual bags of Japanese Matcha

One individual bag

One individual Matcha bag

The Matcha can be enjoyed as cold or hot tea, but also be used with milk, ice cream, candies, chocolate, pastries, cookies, etc. I will post more pictures in the next blogs.

The traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony with Matcha is very complex, artistic and ritualistic.

The Ultimate Turkish Tea Making Machine – Serving about 200 Turkish Tulips

These teapots for Turkish tea always called my attention during the breakfasts in Istanbul. On the top it contains 11 teapots that are kept hot and has two faucets with hot water on the bottom. Each teapot has about one liter capacity.

Big Cai Machine

The 11 teapots tea making machine

The Turkish tea on the teapots is usually very strong and is diluted with hot water from one of the two faucets to each personal taste. It is common to have half tulip with water and half with tea. According to my calculations this machine has the capacity to make about 200 Turkish tulips of black tea. Need more tea? there is a box with at least 10 different types of teabags in a box in front of the machine.

Tea in Italy – Firenze (Florence) cotton muslin teabag

After several Espressos during the day my friend invited me to have a teacup in our favorite coffee shop. Black tea with some dolci...

We got English Breakfast Tea; my surprise was to find a cotton muslin teabag filled with tea inside the package. The teabag was manufactured by La Via Del Tè (The Tea Road) in Firenze (Florence).

The cotton and silk teabags were the original types of teabags that have been used in decades since the 1900’s and now are mostly replaced by paper or thermoplastic teabags.

Tea in Italy 1 web

English Breakfast cotton muslin teabag

The tea brews instantly since the cotton muslin is very open and allows excellent tea infusion.

Quick tea infusion with the open cotton mesh

Quick tea infusion with the open cotton mesh

This tea brewing efficiency is one of the best I have experienced. After removing the teabag several pieces of lint from the cotton teabag were floating on the surface of the tea. The lint was removed with a teaspoon.

Cotton teabag after brewing

Cotton teabag after brewing

It was an interesting experience to come back to the origins of the teabags. The tea was very good on taste and made a bright moment on a rainy winter afternoon in Vicenza.

A Chrysanthemum Herbal Tea Blend. What is inside.

Herbal tea blends are very popular in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The packages are usually transparent to observe the components and may contain ten or more small packages inside. These blends may or not contain tea. Seeds, fruits, leaves, flowers and rock sugar are very common. The packages are very attractive, colorful and are for short term storage; the tea blends must be used freshly for the best flavor and aroma. The teas can be enjoyed hot or cold.

Nice herbal tea package from China. On the bottom right it shows one of the small transparent package

Nice herbal tea package from China. On the bottom right it shows one of the small transparent package. The tea is called Chrysanthemum Tea, but it is a blend

The use of rock sugar (solid sugar) has the advantage of the slow dissolution; on the beginning the tea is not so sweet and will get sweeter as is being enjoyed. When refills of water are made the rock sugar continues to dissolve and tea continues to be sweet for longer time.This eliminates the need of keep adding sugar in each refill. The color of the rock sugar varies from transparent to dark brown, depending on the amount of refining.

Chrysanthemum tea blend. The Chrysanthemum flower is  on the top left, clockwise two fruits, seven goji berries, rock sugar on the bottom and green tea leaves on the left

Chrysanthemum tea blend. The Chrysanthemum flower is on the top left, clockwise two fruits, seven goji berries, rock sugar on the bottom and green tea leaves on the left

The two Oolong cups: Man and Woman – Creativity on the answer

When I lived in China was fascinated with the beauty of the tea cups, particularly the Oolong cups. Tiny, elegant and nicely crafted. The typical setup is one tall cup and one small cup in a little tray. I was always asking to my Chinese friend: why the two cups? why the two cups? My friend would not answer me. After going to more tea shops my friend one day said: the tall cup is for the man and the short cup for the woman. OK, interesting story.

Two-Teacups-8

Two Oolong cups: on the left the drinking cup and on the right the scent cup. Both are in a small ceramic tray.

Later I was able to go to a tea shop in Macau and had the Oolong Gongfu tea ceremony, where I learned that the tall cup is the scent (or sniffing) cup and the small cup is the drinking cup. With time I understood that my Chinese friend didn’t want to loose face by saying “I don’t know” and used his creativity to give an answer. It is like saying: “a wrong answer is better than no answer”.

Two-Oolong-Cups-2-composite-1.3

On the left the scent cup is filled with tea. The drinking cup is put on the top of the sniffing cup and inverted (picture on the right).

Now the scent cup is removed from the drinking cup (left) and we can sniff the cup to enjoy the tea aroma. On the right the drinking cup is full of tea to be appreciated. Enjoy the tea!

Now the scent cup is removed from the drinking cup (left) and we can sniff the cup to enjoy the tea aroma. On the right the drinking cup is full of tea to be appreciated. Enjoy the tea!

Lavender (Lavandula) Tea

The lavender, also called Lavandula tea is a very fragrant and aromatic tea, made with lavender flowers. It is usually mixed with green, black or other herbal teas. As the tea is prepared by adding the boiling water to the flowers a nice fragrance can be perceived in the whole room; it is one of the most fragrant teas. One or two teaspoons per cup of boiling water are sufficient to prepare a tea.

Lavender-dry-flowers-web-2

The dried fragrant lavender flowers have the characteristic pink-violet color, which is also called lavender color

When used alone as lavender tea it is slightly bitter, for this reason usually honey and lemon is added. When lemon (or other acid fruit juice) is added the color changes from pale yellow to pink as is illustrated below. This tea can be enjoyed hot or cold. It is a great summer tea! The pictures below are from a tea package I bought in Taiwan, where the use is very common.

Lavender-soak-web-2

Brewed lavender flowers. The tea color is pale yellow.

The common lavender species  is called Lavandula angustifolia, also called English lavender. Most probably the name lavender comes from the Latin  lavāre, of  lavō, to wash. In the old days the lavender flowers infusions were added to the water to wash the clothes to give a scent. The word lavender and its variations is used in many languages (e.g. French: lavande; German: lavandel; Spanish: lavanda). In Portuguese lavender is called alfazema, a word with Arabian origin.

Lavender-tea-Cup-2

Typical lavender teacup made with 2 teaspoons of tea, lemon and honey added.

Lavander-with-lemon-juice-2

Brewed lavender tea. The neat tea with pale yellow color is on the left. The same tea with lemon juice is on the right. There is a nice color change with the addition of lemon.

Chrysanthemum Tea

Chrysanthemum, is very popular floral tea in Asia. The first time I enjoyed this tea was in China then had many times in Taichung, Taiwan. Hangzhou in China is very famous for the production and use. The Chrysanthemum tea can be enjoyed hot or cold. Many times it is sweetened with honey or rock sugar.

The name Chrysanthemum in Greek means yellow golden flower (chrys+anthemon). There are many types of Chrysanthemum flowers; here I describe the most common tea used in Asia. The petals are light yellow and the multiple carpels are intense yellow.

Chrisanthemum 2

Dried Chrysanthemum flowers from Hangzhou, China

The dry yellow flowers are very delicate and have distinct floral fragrance. The flowers must be handled and stored properly to avoid damage and oxidation. Usually the flowers are good for a year from the date of packaging. After this time they start to reduce the smell and the petals are released. The color changes from yellow to light brown.

To brew the tea, a small amount of flowers  (about 10 to 20) are put in a medium teapot and washed briefly with water at 85-90° C (185-194° F). Then tea can brewed with water at 85-90° C. After 2-3 minutes of infusion the tea can be filtered, served in teacups and enjoyed. Sugar or honey can be added to the teapot in small quantities before adding the water. The teapot can be replenished three or more times; it is a tea that has good replenishment characteristics.

The Chrysanthemum tea can be enjoyed also in small cups

The Chrysanthemum tea can be enjoyed also in small cups

The tea has a distinct floral smell and taste is very subtle, it is naturally sweet, refreshing and relaxing. This tea is caffeine free. It can be enjoyed hot or cold as an all day tea or during meals.

Chrysanthemum flowers after brewing

Chrysanthemum flowers after brewing

The brewed flowers are so nice that we can enjoy the beauty of the pictures.

Another detailed picture of the brewed flowers

Another detailed picture of the tea flowers

Tulips, Turkish tea and friendship – Balikesir, Turkey

Recently in Turkey my friends Kemal and Zek gave me a nice gift set of Turkish tulips. The tulips and plates are hand painted with gold and have a pretty nice design, still maintaining the traditional tulip shape and transparency to visualize the Turkish Tea.
On a trip from Izmir to Istanbul we had the opportunity to stop in Balikesir. After dinner we had the tea served in the new tulips and enjoyed hosmerim (cheese pudding), a nice traditional dessert from the area.
That moment of sharing tea with friends is what makes the tea flow beyond the glasses. It is a fluid sharing pipe of peace.
The tea time as recorded in this picture goes beyond the taste, smell and colors. An old saying “the amphora always keep the smell of the first wine” might be true also for the tulips and tea. The smell of the first tea in Balikesir will always be in the tulips.

The three Turkish teas on the new gold painted tulips are ready. The hosmerim is on the right. What a joyful moment.

The three Turkish teas in the gold painted tulips. The hosmerim is on the right. What a joyful and memorable moment.


Freshly brewed tea in the gold painted tulip. On the right the Tukish Delights to complement the tea. One pomegranate-pistachio  another mastiqe-pistachio. Magnificent.

Freshly brewed tea in the gold painted tulip. On the right the Tukish Delights to complement the tea. One pomegranate-pistachio another mastic-pistachio. Magnificent.