The Chinese have been drinking tea for thousands of years, and they're still going strong. The average person drinks 400 cups of tea a year, which means the country's population consumes 550 billion cups annually, according to the University of Southern California.
In China, tea is served as a sign of respect, especially from younger family members to their elders at family gatherings or from employees serving others at meetings. It may be included as part of an apology, a showing of gratitude or a celebration.
How to make a proper cup: The type of tea depends on the season, Sun Yuping, tea master of Shanghai Fenghe Teahouse, told CNN. Green tea is fresher and more fragrant in the spring, while oolong is harvested for fall drinking.
Chinese tea is served in small, 2-ounce (ish) servings — sometimes called thimble-sized. Use an 8-ounce small ceramic pot, and fill it no more than halfway with dry tea leaves. In a separate kettle, boil water and cool to the appropriate temperature (110 to 160 degrees F for green teas, for example), Saveur says. Fill the teapot about 3/4 of the way and pour it out right away to wash any dust off the tea leaves and warm the pot. Refill the pot with more water and let it sit one to five minutes.
Never pour a full cup of tea in China. “Like wines in Western culture, tea in China is more of a sense and concept than taste,” Sun said. “You should never completely fill your tea cup, it's considered impolite.” Fill about 70 percent of a cup with tea, as the other 30 percent is "space for your emotions," said Sun.