How to drink tea like a Beijinger

There is an old saying, 70% full of tea, 80% full of rice and full of wine, which means when you pour tea into the cup, you can only fill 70% of the cup. When you fill a bowl with rice, you need to fill 80% of the bowl. When you serve wine, you need to fill 100. Otherwise, it means you are not sincere.

Beijinger prefers to drink tea with Gaiwan, which has a lot of rules. When serving tea with Gaiwan, firstly, you should only fill the 70% of the cup. When drinking tea with Gaiwan, you have to use a hand hold the saucer and the cup, and use another hand to open the lid with a slight gap. Then, you should move the cup in front of your mouth and sip a bit. You should not take the lid away, and drink it as you are drinking water. If you hold the lid in your hand, and drink up the tea in the bowl, which is disrespectful to the host. This action seems to protest against the host: “What kind of tea are you serving me? It tastes like nothing at all!” Moreover, the host will look down on you think you do not know how to taste a cup of tea.

Additionally, when serving tea with Gaiwan, the host cannot arbitrarily open the lid to refill the water. Here is the rule: once the guest picks up the lid and leans the lid on the saucer. This action tells the host that he need to refill the water. If the guest has not picked up the lid, host can pick up the teapot and ask the guest if he can refill the water. But he cannot open the lid and refill the water without ask for permission.

As the guest, when you accept the host’s refilling your water, you need to show your appreciation by raising your body up a little bit. When someone is serving your tea, people with manner will use index finger and middle finger to knock on the table three times to express the gratitude. It is called “three nods of gold chicken”. On closer inspection, the index finger and middle finger should be bent up when tapping on the table. But it is not limited to this. When you smoke with a bunch of friends, you don’t have a lighter, someone light up the cigarette for you. You bow and hold his hand to let him light your cigarette up. When it’s done, you clap on the back of the hand, which should mean the same thing.

If you refill the water with a teapot, you must turn your body to one side. Then, you pick up the teapot with one hand holding the teapot and another hand holding the lid and refill the water slowly. After refill, you put the teapot on the table. You should not put the spout facing the guest, which means cursing the guests. Nowadays, young people don’t know about this rules. Your arm should not face others. After serving the tea, you should not turn round immediately. Rather you should step back 3 steps and then turn round. Otherwise, you show others your hip, which is also disrespectful. What’s more, you should never use water kettle or thermos bottle to pour the water into the teapot directly, which is unfriendly to the guests and despise to the guests. You should not pour tea on the ground in front of the guests. Pouring water on the floor means kicking the guests out, which is more embarrassing than cursing the guests.

Refilling the water for the guests must follow the rule that the hosts must follow the wish of the guests. The host should not use water refilling as excuses to not speak to the guests. In China, there is a saying of “serving tea should not exceed three” as a way of showing hospitality. The first cup of tea is welcoming the guest, the second cup of tea is called refilling, the third cup of tea is saying goodbye to the guest. If you ask the guest to drink more tea without talking much, it means the reminder to the guests that “they should leave now.” Tea drinking should be focused more on talking instead of drinking tea.

Lastly, using enameled cup to brew tea, that means friends are coming. It is much casual. There are not many rules among friends. When you brew tea, you must put more tea leaves. You should never drink tea without color.