Classical Chinese Herbal Tea

Chinese Herbal tea with a colorful mixture of dried fruits, seeds, flowers and sugar

Herbal teas are very common in China. They are also available in tea houses or for purchase in small packages with a particular blend. A typical tea will have dried flowers, seeds, fruits and leaves (including pine needles). Sometimes it contains rock sugar (solid pieces of sugar) as observed in the picture above. Most of them are caffeine-free. The tea is brewed with hot water in this cup where the lid is put on the top to keep it hot. After drinking the tea, it is replenished with hot water few times. It is usual to eat the fruits after drinking the tea. Some fruits are sweet and others are bitter.
These teas are aromatic and refreshing. Each one has a peculiar aroma and taste, which makes the tea experience always unique.

The Bright Crimson Tea: Hibiscus, Roselle, Jamaica, Karkade, etc…

A freshly brewed Hibiscus tea with the characteristic crimson color. On the side two Hibiscus calyxes.

The calyxes of Hibiscus sadbariffa, or simply Hibiscus are used to make a crimson (deep red color) tea. The Hibiscus tea has different names and is consumed hot or cold in many parts of the world.
Few years ago had the opportunity to work in Mexico and tasted the Agua de Jamaica which always fascinated me for the deep crimson color and the fabulous taste. It is a refreshing tea, with the proper balance of acidity. In Mexico it is served cold with sugar and a drop of lime juice. Later I found this tea in Singapore, where it is called Roselle and have enjoyed hot, the form which I prefer. Found the same tea in Cairo, where is called karkade and is sold on the streets competing with the black tea.
The Hibiscus calyxes can be used alone or in mixtures in many herbal teas.

Here we have three Hibiscus calyxes. These are typical size, about 2.5 cm wide and 3.5 cm long.

It’s Turkish Tea Time!

Here we have a classical setup for the Turkish Tea: Tulip tea, two sugar cubes, Turkish delight and the two stacked kettles for brewing the tea.

The Turkish tea (çay) is a medium bodied golden brown black tea. It is prepared in a two stacked kettle (çaydanlık). Usually cold water is put in the lower kettle until boiling, then some water is transferred to the top kettle where the black tea is added and mixed. The two kettles go back to the stove in low heat. After brewing for ten minutes some tea from the top kettle is poured to the tulip cup (usually half cup). Hot water from the bottom kettle is added to fill the cup. The use of the concentrated tea and hot water allows to obtain different tea strengths according to the taste. This technique has many variations, and sometimes water is replenished in one or both kettles to get better tea usage. Traveling in Turkey is not uncommon to drink more than 20 tulip cups of tea in a day. It is refreshing and delicious every time.

A warm welcome in Turkey

A tulip black tea with Turkish delight is offered as a warm welcome to guests and visitors in a Turkish home or a store. Here we have the Turkish Delight (aka Lokum ) made with pomegranate and pistachios served with the tulip tea. This is a perfect combination of flavors and warmth anytime of the day or night. Two sugar cubes are always served with the tea and most of the people use only one cube.

Gamro or Sweet Dew Tea – South Korea

The Gamro Tea ( aka Sweet Dew Tea) is made with the leaves of hydrangea serrata . It has a peculiar sweet (sugarless) and refreshing taste. The instructions on the package indicate that aroma and flavor varies with the length of the brewing time. First put boiling water into a teacup and put one leaf of the tea. After soaking for few seconds a yellow color develops, then greenish. Taste the tea until the flavor develops to your taste, them take the leaf out and enjoy the tea. It can be replenished.
An alternate method is the use of a teapot and transferring the tea after few minutes, then replenishing with hot water.

Two tea leaves of the Gamro Tea. The shape and size of the leaves is not uniform. The leaves are very delicate. The color is light green brown.

This was my first can of Gamro tea purchased in Seoul, South Korea. A store was distributing small samples of the tea. After tasting could not resit and purchased two cans. It is a very unusual tea.

Turkish Black Tea

The traditional Turkish Tea is traditionally served in the tulip shaped glass. It is a black tea. The most common brands are Caykur, Dogadan and Lipton. The traditional way of brewing is with a double teapot. The water is added in both bottom pot. When the bottom water start to boil it is partially transferred to the top part and tea is added. When the tea is brewed after 3 to 5 minutes it is filtered and served. In many times the tea is blended with the hot water from the bottom to dilute.
It is typically served in the tulip cups with two cubes of sugar. Most people drink with one cube of sugar.
A variation of this tea is with the addition of mint leaves when the tea is ready to be served. It is very common in Egypt.

Turkish Black Tea has a nice red brown tonality with small light color leaves

Green Tea Small Pot – Chinese Tea

Green Tea is still one of the most popular teas. For most teas a small glass or ceramic teapot is used. For a meal or for larger quantities a larger pot can be used without the transfer pot. This method can be used for a variety of Green and Green alike teas:Long Jing, Sencha, Jasmine, White, Oolong, herbal, etc.

Tea: Green Tea, 5 grams
Teapot: 50 ml
Water temperature: 160 to 180 F

First the leaves are soaked in hot water. The amount of water added is just enough to cover the leaves. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Fill with hot water.

After 1 minute the tea is transferred to a small jar to collect all the tea. This transfer has several objectives: control the contact time between the hot water and green tea and mix the tea making a uniform brew.

Tea is collected on the transfer jar and poured to the teacups

The tea is transferred from the small jar to the cups.The Sencha is finer ground than Lung Jing, therefore we will have more sall tea leaves being transferred during the brews and tea is slightly haze.

Typical setup for the green tea. Teacup, transfer cup and two drinking cups. Filter? It is on the inside of the teacup, a spiral filter easy to be removed and cleaned.

Tea now can be enjoyed. firs there is a visual appeal of the color and hue, then the smell fascinates and tea is tasted to complete the degustation. After drinking all the tea, the teapot can be refilled up to 8 times, and time can be extended after each 3 set of brews in order to better extract the tea from the leaves.
The second cup is always the best of all.

Here is an alternated cup made with glass double insulated. It looks nice and is not hot in the outside.

Jasmine Tea

The Jasmine Tea is usually green or white tea with added jasmine flavors. It is scented and very popular, easy drinking tea even for non tea enthusiasts. The Jasmine Tea can be served with meals, as a welcome drink or as a daily drink.
The Jasmine Tea is brewed on the same way as green tea.
The most common Jasmine Teas are in leaves, very similar to common green teas. a premium is the Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Tea, made by rolling the tea leaves into a small pearl shape.

Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Tea are beautiful pearl like tea. When the package is opened the characteristic fresh smell of jasmine is perceived. It is a good and easy drinking tea.

Chinese Bitter Tea

The Chinese Bitter Tea (Kuding Tea) is derived from different plants which produce leaves with bitter taste. One or two leaves are rolled together to produce a tea in the shape of a straw. The tea is brewed like the Chinese Green Tea, and only one straw is used per cup (or teapot). This is a bitter and refreshing tea, to be enjoyed all day long. In China this tea is considered “for man” due to the bitterness.

Two "straws" of Bitter Tea. They are sufficient for a 500 ml pot making a crisp and refreshing tea.

Traditional Chinese Green Tea

Here is a simple and traditional way to prepare the Green tea. This method is the most widely used thorough China.

Tea: Long Jing, China
Cup: Glass 180 ml (6 oz)
Water temperature: 160-180 F

The Long Jing leaves are either single or double. It has no petiole. The leaves are delicate and have a distinct smell.

The Long Jing tea is one of my favorite teas. It has very defined aroma and taste.
A transparent glass cup or glass jar is used to display the nice color and characteristics of the brew. A teaspoon of Long Jing tea is added to the cup, and hot water is added just enough to cover the leaves. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes to soak the leaves.

Here the leaves are being soaked with water at 160F for 5 minutes.

Only a small amount of water is used on the cup to soak the leaves. Full addition of water in the beginning will make the tea bitter and make the leaves to float.
After soaking the leaves add water at 160 to 180 F to fill the cup.

The first hot water addition to the cup. The leaves go to the top and then bottom

After the full addition of water the leaves will start to move, going first to the top, then to the bottom. If the leaves stay mostly on the top is because the soaking was not enough or the tea leaves are too dry, requiring longer soaking time. Most of the time few leaves are on the top when we start to drink the tea. Just blow the leaves gently to the other side of the cup and start sipping the tea.

Now tea leaves are on the bottom. Tea is ready to be savoured. Enjoy!

Drink the tea slowly leaving one third of the tea on the cup. Do not drink to the bottom!

Now it’s time for the first refill. Add hot water to the cup, wait a bit until the leaves settle again to the bottom and enjoy the first tea refill.

Here is the first refill. The tea is still very enjoyable and can be refilled again.

Now drink the tea leaving one third of the volume and refilling with hot water. Usually the tea can be refilled up to 8 times during the day, from morning to the afternoon. The tea becomes lighter, but still enjoyable during the refills.


Instead of using a glass cup, a transparent jar can also be used. Several jars can be used: from fruit preserves, instant coffee, jelly, etc. The larger volume makes more convenient to drink thorough the day. Most of the time a lid is put on the jar to avoid spill and contamination. It also looks nice. On the Tea Gallery China there are pictures of different cups and glass jars used in China on the daily life.

A medium size preserves jar with 2 cups capacity (0.5 liters) is a good size

This is just the beginning of the Long Jing experience. It has a defined leaf aroma, slightly sweet and very smooth taste which makes this tea simple unforgettable.