We often use the expression ‘I wouldn’t do it for all the tea in China’. ‘Char’, the slang word for tea is one of the few words we’ve imported from Chinese. Yet, at home, we rarely drink Chinese tea; our usual ‘brew’ comes from India, Sri Lanka or Kenya. Or, sometimes, we just toss a tea-bag into a cup without paying much attention to where it comes from.
Nevertheless, there is a lot of tea in China, and sometimes, they make quite a ceremony of preparing it. Usually, when we went for a meal, the first thing on to the table was a pot of green tea; I assume its main purpose was to clear the palate for what was to come.
(You knew, didn’t you, that you don’t put milk or sugar into green tea … if you want a sweeter brew, though, the slightest smidgin of honey is permissible)
Or, you can take your tea in a tea-house; the place where Chinese people go to relax. They make your tea by putting the leaves into a cup, then pouring hot water on it. The cup comes with a lid, so you can use it to keep the leaves in the cup while you drink your tea. And, from time to time, a waiter comes around to top up your brew with hot water … I once had five cups without diluting the flavour at all. Which means, you can stay as long as you like; a useful feature when you’re tired of shopping, but have some time before you meet the rest of the group.