When tea is being drunk, one person presides over the ceremony, preparing and serving. A first measure of hot water is placed into the lipped bowl, from where it is poured into the empty pot. This water warms the pot, and is then poured into the cups to warm them, before being thrown away.
A second measure of hot water is allowed to cool while a scoopful of tea is placed in the pot. The quantity used varies very much with the quality of the tea and the number of people drinking. When the water is cool enough, it is gently poured into the pot. The water used to warm the cups is thrown away while the tea is allowed to draw in the pot for two or three minutes, and a new measure of hot water is placed in the lipped bowl to cool for the second serving.
The first serving of a new batch of tea is poured directly into the cups, a little at a time, back and forward, in order to spread equally the stronger tea that emerges from the bottom of the teapot. No water must remain in the pot, or it would develop the bitter taste that is so undesirable. The filled cups are put on the saucers and these are then placed in front of the drinkers. Cups should not be passed directly from hand to hand: only one person moving at a time is the rule. In very formal ceremonies, an assistant may carry the filled cups on a tray from the table where they are filled to the guests sitting on cushions.
Korean tea is usually drunk holding the cup in both hands. The first step is to view the colour of the tea, the second to inhale its fragrance, the third to taste it on the tongue, the fourth to follow its taste in the throat, and finally there is the lingering aftertaste in the mouth to be enjoyed. Tea is reckoned to contain five or six tastes: salt, sweet, bitter, tart, peppery, in varying proportions.
The water for the second and following cups can be a little hotter than that used for the first. The leaves having softened, the water needs to stand on them for only a very short moment, then the tea is poured into the lipped bowl, which is passed around, people serving themselves directly. This avoids passing cups back and forward. Ordinary green tea will usually have lost most of its flavour after serving three times, but very good tea may be used to make four or five rounds. The used tea leaves can be employed in a variety of ways: in cooking, in bathwater or as a hair-rinse, or to remove the smell from a refrigerator...
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