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 Traditional chinese customs: birds, teahouses, varieties of tea

Hongkong Hotels

TAKING YOUR BIRD to tea is a traditional Chinese custom. In a number of Hong Kong teahouses, the star attractions are the hundreds of pet birds that are discussed, admired, pampered and listened to by their proud owners.

There might be bird song competitions or an occasional bird fight -but most of the time is spent lingering over the ubiquitous pot of tea.

Grown in China for more than two thousand years, tea is available in Hong Kong in literally hundreds of different varieties. Like the wines of Europe and America, tea reflects the peculiarities of the climate and the soil in which it has been grown.

Chinese teas can be divided into three basic categories 1. Green or unfermented tea (Cloud Mist 霖茶, Dragon Well 能井茶, Dried Jasmine blossom 香片茶), 2 . Red or fermented tea (Po Lei 普洱, Ki-mun 祈阴), and 3. Semi fermented (Black Dragon 乌龙, Tik Kwun Yum 截截音).

The custom in Hong Kong (and throughout China ) is to drink the tea straight, with no milk or sugar. You will be given a cup with no handle and sometimes with a fitted lid. A lidded can usually contains floating leaves, and the procedure for drinking this tea is to adjust the lid to allow a little liquid out, thus straining the leaves.

When the pot runs out, you simply set the lid askew or upside down and the waiter will refill it. What could be simpler?

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