Secret Rules of Chinese Tea Adventure

The estimated reading time for this post is 2 minutes

Apparently this is what happens when you leave your house in Fuzhou. Apparently, by simply walking the streets in quest of Go or whatever it may be, inevitably you will find yourself consuming more tea than you ever believed was in China.



Of course you’ll also have a delightful time meeting fun new people who drag you into the inner sanctums of their tea companies and serve up incredible teas from all over the country. They’ll teach you how not to act the fool when being served proper, well made tea with ceremony.

  1. Don’t blow on it. Don’t. I know, it’s hard. Don’t.
  2. Tap on the table three times near your cup, using two fingers, at the same time tea is being poured for you. Each tap is for one word of 谢谢你 (xia xia ni – thank you).
  3. Each little cup must be completed with three distinct drinks.
  4. Each of the three sips should be noisy.
  5. Every cup you finish will be immediately refilled. Forever.
  6. If you drink too much tea too fast, you will get drunk on caffeine. Dizzy. Really.
  7. If you drink the first few cups and then pretend to be so caught up in conversation you forget your cup until the next steeping, you may be able to not offend anyone, slow your consumption slightly, and manage not to become so bloated and intoxicated that you do something even more off base than you already have.

A great way to fill in the space used to slow tea consumption is to get really excited about telling a story, start rambling away, almost immediately get stuck as you can’t find the Chinese words you need, and begin making faces and waving your hands and fists in the air. When they reply, squint at them, slow your breathing, and desperately try to make out any sounds they make that might be words. Repeat the sounds they make until suddenly you realize you are, in fact, speaking words you know. Shout with delight and repeat.

They will find this delightful. They will laugh and try to insert words for you, words that are just as unfamiliar as the last. Grab these new words and sling them like you mean it. Have them invite you to lunch/dinner/etc and have a wonderful time throughout as your day goes tearing along. You will have days where you have lunch, are taken to tea at a tea company, are invited to another tea company, are invited to dinner with tea… At each location you will have no less than two teas with something like five steepings each. At one tea company you will try at least six different teas with endless pourings of each.

When you at last realize that it has been dark for a long time and you are unable to think, make your way to a cab, mumble the name of your school a few times, and pass out. Rinse and repeat.

Or at least, that seems to be what happens. According to my studies.

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  2. Mysteries of Love from a Dying Chinese Woman
  3. Improv in the Wild: Thanks Andy Crouch
  4. My First Chinese Pun
  5. Expats in China: Why Are They Here?

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