This is the most interesting method of serving Chinese tea that I’ve
seen to date – it comes in a metal ball attached to a length of chain
ending with a hook. I saw someone drinking from this extraordinary
contraption and asked what it was. It’s apparently Chinese tea and it
comes inside the metal contraption in a warm cup of steeping water and
a side cup of ice cubes to cool down the drink.
The metal sphere which encapsulates the Chinese tea leaves is left
to steep inside the warm water. The metal sphere has holes lining the
upper and lower “hemisphere” to allow the warm water to circulate
inside and steep the tea leaves before flowing out as tea. The metal
contraption avoids the tea leaves from getting into your drink by
effectively trapping them inside the sphere while allowing the liquid
to freely flow through the steeping tea leaves.
The metal chain attached to the hook is meant to hold the sphere
containing the tea leaves in place, a task assisted by the metal hook
which is fastened to the rim. This metal contraption allows the user
(er…am I allowed to use the term “user”? :p) to control the steeping
process of the tea by facilitating the flexibility of brewing stronger
or weaker tea. This level of control over one’s tea may not be
unpreceded – but it certainly is unusual in a coffee shop.
The metal sphere is lifted from the tea using the attached chain
(careful of the metal hook – it has a tendency to pierce unwary
fingers) when the steeping has reached a consistency and color of your
desire from the loose tea leaves restrained inside the spherical
The volume of water displaced by the metal ball containing the loose
tea leaves and the associated chain and hook leaves about 1/4 of the
cup empty after it’s been taken out. The small cup of ice can then be
spooned into the Chinese tea for it to quickly cool down before it’s
consumed. The metal sphere can be inserted again at this point, but it
would merely be aesthetic since the temperature of the water makes it
unfeasible for further steeping to continue.
It’s an informal mini tea ceremony, available at your friendly neighborhood coffee shop. :)