The tea giveaway is now closed, but if you’d like a signed postcard or bookplate please send your address through my contact me page and let me know which one you’d prefer. Please do read on to learn about English and Chinese tea.
Welcome to my tea giveaway in honor of my second novel, THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID. You hold in your hands one of two gifts: the oolong tea from the Chinese mountains of Wuyi, which Elodie saw arrive on the tea clipper the Osprey at the docks of London, or a mixture of tea Ching Lan preferred—the fermented and aged pu-erh mixed with the medicinal Chrysanthemum tea. Ching Lan’s tea is tied with a red wool yarn to honor the custom of the red string of fate, which connects people destined to meet or help one another. Elodie’s tea is tied with hand-spindled (by me!) wool from the rare British Jacob sheep, which is in honor of the wool packs sent to China on the outward tea clipper journey.
Enjoy, and many adventures await you on the clipper ship the Osprey!
All my best,
Tea is made from an evergreen shrub called Camellia sinensis, which originated in China (hence the species name sinensis, which means “from China” in Latin).
It used to take large sailing ships, called East Indiamen, up to a year to make a homeward journey from China to London, but a tea clipper could do it in around one hundred days, traveling from Fuzhou (Foochow) to London. Clipper ships would race each other home, and from 1861, ship-owners offered a premium of ten shillings per ton for the winning ship. But often, clippers raced each other only for the glory of setting a record for fastest passage home.
Teas the English Prefer:
Dark tea blends such as English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, Earl Grey, Lady Grey, as well as Darjeeling, oolong, Lapsang Souchong
Teas the Chinese Prefer:
Green tea, white tea, oolong (wu-long), pu-erh (an aged, fermented tea compressed into disks or bricks), gunpowder tea (zhu cha, which refers to the pelleted shape as green tea is rolled and dried) and bu zhi chun (a type of oolong produced on Mount Wuyi).
How to Make English Tea
You will need:
Tea bags or loose tea
Lemon slice if not using milk (optional)
Heat the teapot and cups with some of the boiling water and then discard the water. Into the pot, place one teaspoon per person plus one for the pot (if you have a four-cup teapot you’ll use five teaspoons) or two teabags. Pour in the boiling water, stir once and replace the lid. Leave to steep for three to five minutes (longer if you like strong or “builder’s” tea). Pour into cups and add milk and a teaspoon of sugar, if desired. Or add a slice of lemon if not using milk. Alternatively, make a single cup with one tea bag. Add boiling water to the tea bag in the cup, let it steep for three to five minutes, remove the bag and add milk and/or sugar.
How to Make Chinese Tea
You will need:
A Yixing teapot (small clay pot) or a gaiwan (a spoutless pot with a lid) or a regular spouted teapot.
Chinese teacups or others
Water just under a boil (boiling water is too hot
for Chinese tea)
Place a handful of loose tea into the pot and pour in the hot water. Replace the lid, leave to sit for around a minute and then drain off the water. (This first steeping is to wash the tea leaves.)
Add water to the rinsed leaves and leave to sit for around thirty seconds, then pour into cups. Refill the pot one to two more times. Each drinking will yield a different taste as the tea becomes more diluted.
There are a few rituals when drinking Chinese tea. It’s considered bad manners to allow the spout of the teapot to point at anyone. To thank the pourer, tap two fingers on the table. When pouring tea for yourself, make sure you serve others, too. And don’t add anything to your tea; enjoy the flavors on their own.