A public space in the making.

Tea for all at Chao-Mi's House

Chao-Mi's front room


Following our presentation at the Saturday School Chao-Mi invited everyone to come to her place in Wivenhoe and enjoy some tea. Stories and descriptions of Chinese ways of hosting were collected and discussed. What is Chinese after all?

On arrival the large table in the living room had already been prepared with (among other things) Taiwanese tea and snacks. Everyone was keen to get started and the conversation moved quickly between many different Chinese, english, German and italian customs and objects that support a warm welcome and a pleasant time together.

According to a Chinese custom one serves noodles when a guest arrives. Like the noodle tangles up around the chop stick the guest should stay and get entangled during his visit. When Leaving one serves round dumplings to wish the guest a round and smooth journey.

Among the many different treats on Chao-Mi's table the star shaped biscuits covered in powder sugar stuck out as an east-western crossover. Green tea (Christmas) biscuits. Delicious!

"You can't rush a Chinese cup of tea" was the conclusion to a lengthy discussion about Chinese tea which was triggered in part by the tea tray from which it was served. Though everyone knows the kind of tray, no one actually could tell me what it is called. It is common in Southern China.

The tea pot is small and the tea leaves are used several times in the same pot. The first pour of boiling water is used to wash the leaves, rinse the cups and spread the scent of tea. It is not drunk but poured onto the tray which has a drain. The second pouring is then drunk and with each pouring the flavour of the tea develops.

The cups and the tea pot are small. If the leaves stay in the water too long the tea does not taste well - I think it should not stay for more then a minute in the pot before the tea is poured. The tray itself is made of a dense wood that can withstand the moisture.

The tea tray in Chao-Mi's hose is not used on a daily basis but brought out for special occasions.

'Tea in China is a bit like wine in Europe' there are many different kinds and qualities of tea and they are not necessarily cheap and chosen according to occasion.

A memory from a long time ago. Lorna Tsang remembered this tea cup used by Chinese workers in Honk Kong. A lit to keep it warm which was only opened slightly to drink from.

The afternoon was a very good way to get started and enjoy a more casual way to get to know each other. Thank you Choa-Mi!