The Art of China at the British Museum

The Tea House was recently invited to provide our expert tea services at a Members-only event at the British Museum. We were invited to celebrate the history and culture of one of the most famous tea producing countries in the world, China. With some 800 people in attendance, the pressure was on to provide a thrilling and informative experience for all involved. And to make enough tea to serve them all, of course!

The Tea House showcased six teas and demonstrated the Chinese Tea Ceremony.

As soon as the doors opened, the waiting guests thronged through into Gallery 33. Surrounded by beautiful artefacts, The Tea House team were poised and waiting.

The six teas were chosen to represent the breadth and depth of the centuries old Chinese culture of tea drinking. Although, there were some constraints posed by a scale and hot water supply!

We opted for 3 greens – Chun Mee, Dragon Well Lung Ching and Pingshui Pinhead Gunpowder each different in their own way, an oolong – Jade Oolong, a white – Lin Yun White Downy and a classic flavoured tea – Lychee (Lizhi Hongcha).  

Images of Buddha and dragons graced the display cabinets

Gallery 33 is full of beautiful artefacts spanning many eras of Chinese history. Images of Buddha and dragons graced the display cabinets and walls that line the long gallery walls along with elegant “objets” and traditional China plates tea pots.

The evocative smell of freshly brewed tea completed the atmospheric transport to an oriental paradise.  From visitors’ favourite lychee to the precious Jade Oolong, each tea was as interesting as the last. Each helped to showcase the range of teas that China produces.

The traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony (“Gong Fu Cha”) was performed using the Oolong.  The rinsing and warming of the pot and cups and the rinsing of the leaves are crucial to preparation. The practical use of the slatted bamboo tray on which the tea is prepared is particularly valued at this point. In addition to tasting the tea itself, it is most important to appreciate its discreet aroma and a special cup passed round to the guests for this purpose.

Once brewed and ready to drink, the tea is poured continuously across the cups rather than filling each cup individually (another good use of the slatted tray) although the cups are only filled half way. Because the other half may be filled  with “friendship and affection”.

After our tea activities, the Members moved on to see a Traditional Chinese Opera and listen Chinese Orchestra in the impressive Great Court before heading home to dream about the myths, wonders and legends of Chinese culture. 

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