The International Tea Masters Association developed and launched the American Tea Ceremony. It represents the resurgence of tea in America and is modeled after the tea ceremonies in China and Japan. It is an opportunity to sit down and have tea with those most important to you in your life: your family, friends, and business associates.
The American Tea Ceremony is more than just sipping a cup of tea. The tea in the ceremony is simply an enjoyable vehicle allowing the person leading the ceremony an opportunity to discuss subjects that will strengthen personal values and beliefs that guide our behaviors and decisions.
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about the American Tea Ceremony
In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in fine teas in America, mainly due to the lifting of China’s ban on exports in 1971. Since the 1920s, Americans could not get Chinese tea and very little Indian tea was imported. The ones they did get were specifically blended for iced tea. With China’s ban lifted, people began consuming green, white, oolong, and black tea again, along with herbal varieties. American tea consumers have become increasingly interested in the origins of their tea and want to try teas from all parts of the globe.
Another important factor is the history of immigration to the United States. Immigration is a demographic phenomenon that has been a major source of population growth and cultural change throughout much of the history in America. In 2006, for example, the U.S. accepted more legal immigrants as permanent residents than all other countries combined.
With this as background, the American Tea Ceremony takes advantage of teas grown all over the world reflecting the melting pot of ethnicity and the diverse cultures of which this nation’s population is composed.
Several elements of the ceremony make it unique. The aroma of the dry tea leaves and the tea itself after brewing is paramount. Instead of preparing the tea in a ceramic or metal teapot, a glass Tea Press is used. Instead of pouring the tea into ceramic or porcelain teacups after steeping, Tasting Glasses and glass teacups are used.
The significance of these features allow the participants to not only capture the tea’s fragrance, but watch the tea develop its natural color during the steeping process as the leaves open, expand, and release their flavor. These steps add a special sensory dimension to the ceremony’s process.
A suitable space must be provided for preparing and serving the tea. A table large enough to hold the glassware, utensils, and hot water kettle is necessary, along with ample seating for those participating. Besides the items mentioned above, a thermometer and timer are essential items, as well as a tea towel and a suitable supply of spring water. The surroundings should be peaceful and conducive to relaxation, socialization, and communication.
These are the parameters to follow for preparing a superior cup of hot tea:
The following are the steps involved in the ceremony for preparing the tea:
1. To preserve the ambiance, make sure cellphones and other electronic devices are turned off. Set the tone by offering a blessing, for example:
“I want to bless the people responsible for growing and harvesting the tea we’re going to enjoy today; bless the people who transported it to our table; bless the vendors who made it available to us; and a special blessing to our government for preserving our way of life.”
2. Place a teaspoon of tea on a small white salad plate or bowl and capture the fragrance of the dry tea leaves. Feel their texture before preparing the tea.
3. The tea leaves should be measured by the teaspoon in advance and ready to be placed in the Tea Press (one teaspoon of tea for each 6 oz. of water). Since you will be using a 12-ounce Tea Press, remember to add two teaspoon of tea and fill the Tea Press to the top ring of the glass canister.
4. Place the Tea Press on a serving plate. Add the tea to the Tea Press and cover it with approximately one to two fluid ounce of hot water. Slide the filter down to the top of the water-line giving the leaves room to open and unfurl. Pour it out after just a few seconds. This is to rinse and set the tea leaves so they will ready to release their flavor.
5. Remove the filter from the Tea Press. With the tea leaves in the base of the Tea Press, fill it with 12 fluid ounces of hot water at the temperature suggested in the chart. Put the lid on the Tea Press and depress the plunger to the top of the water-line. Do not depress it down to the top of the leaves in that they need the space to open and expand.
6. Allow the tea to steep for the length of time specified in the chart.
7. When the time expires, pour the tea directly into small 1-2 oz. Aroma Glasses (shot glasses work just fine.
Pour the remaining tea into Tasting Glasses or Teacups.
Then, ask each person to pour the tea in their Aroma Glass into their Tasting Glass or Teacups and raise the Aroma Glass up to the nose, breath in, and capture the fragrance of the tea. Once completed, ask everyone to pick up their Tasting Glass and savor the first taste of the tea. Sit back, relax and enjoy every sip.
8. Assuming the tea is re-steepable, proceed to infuse it a second and third time by repeating steps 5-7.
9. The final step is to spoon out the tea leaves on a white dish or bowl and feel the damp leaves and capture their fragrance. Pass it around the table so everyone can do the same thing.
Besides the many health benefits tea has to offer, “making time for tea” can improve the quality of your life and those around you, especially your children. The ceremony is a venue for expressing appreciation, love, and respect for one another. Because it is experiential, one may only realize its benefits after sitting down at the table to share your thoughts and feelings with others for some meaningful camaraderie, stimulating conversation, and an extremely satisfying cup of tea.