Tureen tea (Photo from dxbei.com)
The tea is traditional beverage of the Hui people. It is not only the everyday drink of the Hui Nationality, but also the most precious beverage when preparing a feast for guests. Tea plays a very important part in the diet and life of the Hui people.
Wherever you are in China, a hospitable Muslim host will always first come up and serve a cup of hot strong tea. The Hui people are very particular about tea services. In many of the Hui families there are various sets of tea services. In the past, the pots used to make and heat tea were usually made of silver or copper, and designed in various styles with very unique and distinguished characteristics. There were copper teapots with long spouts, silver duck teapots, copper fire teapots, and more. Nowadays when making tea, the Hui people usually use porcelain pots, tureens, or porcelain cups with covers; when boiling the tea, they mainly use tin-iron pots, and in the summer purple-sand pottery pots.
Tureen tea, which is drank in a very unique way by the Hui people living in the northwestern part of China, is believed to date from the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD). It has been handed down from generation to generation and is widely enjoyed by the Hui people. It is made up of the tray, the tureen, and the cover, which are nicknamed Three Cannon Batteries. During the heat of the summer, tureen tea becomes popular among the Hui people. While in the cold winter, during the slack farming seasons, the Hui people usually sit around the morning stove, baking some slices of bread or eating some flour pastries, and enjoying a cup of Tureen Tea.
The Hui people also take Tureen Tea as the best and perfect beverage to treat guests. It is always served along with flour pastries or dried nuts to guests during all festive activities such as Eid Al-Adha Day, Hari Raya Puasa, and wedding ceremonies. There are various customs on which Hui people serve tea to guests. The host will first open the cover of the tureen, put the tea leaves into the tureen, pour the water inside, and last put the cover back on the tureen before offering it to the guest with both hands. If there are several guests coming, the host has to serve the tea to them in a correct order according to the ages, hierarchies and status. The guest with the greatest honor should be the first one to enjoy the tea.
When drinking Tureen Tea, one can not put away the cover or puff the tea leaves on the surface of the water using his mouth; instead, he should put the tureen and the tray in his left hand, and use the right hand to remove the cover to across the surface of the water. This is done in order to sweep the tea to the edge of the tureen wall to accelerate the pace the sugar crystals will melt. They are also very particular about the ways of skimming the tea with the cover. It is said that after the first time, the tea becomes very sweet and after the second time it becomes much more fragrant. Each time the teat is skimmed, the guest should suck in the tea using his mouth while tilting the cover. He can neither pick up the tureen and swallow the tea in succession, nor gasp while drinking the tea. Instead he should drink slowly and enjoy every mouthful of the tea. In order to be polite and respectful when served a cup a tea, a guest must not stand on ceremony or put aside his cup without a taste.
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