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Tea and Minority Groups

The Three-Course Tea of the Bai ethnic minority is a dramatic tea ceremony. This ceremony was originally held by the senior members of a family to express best wishes to juniors when they were going to pursue studies, learn a skill, start a business or get married. Now, to drink Three-Course Tea has become a conventional ceremony when people of the Bai ethnic minority greet guests. 

Bai Ethnic Minority: Three-Course Tea

In the past, the ceremony was normally conducted by the senior family members, but now juniors can also take charge of the whole procedure and offer tea to elder members. In Three-Course Tea, the brewing techniques and materials used in each course are different from each other. 

The first course of tea is called bitter tea, meaning that one will suffer a lot before she/he starts his or her career. 

The second course of tea is called sweet tea. After serving the first course, the host will empty the pot and repeat the procedure right from the beginning. This time, the host will add brown sugar, a special fan-shaped dairy product, and Chinese cinnamon into the handless cup, and then pour the tea into the cup with an amount of 8/10 cup. 

The third course of tea is called aftertaste tea. The brewing procedure is the same as the previous ones, but materials added in the handless cup change to honey, popcorn, Bunge prickly ash, and walnut kernel with a water amount of 6/10 or 7/10 cup. When drinking this course of tea, one should shake the cup to mix up all those materials and then drink the tea up while it is hot. One will find flavor of sweet, sour, bitter, and pungent in the tea which reminds the taster of bitter comes first, sweet comes second. 

Tibetan Ethnic Minority: Buttered Tea

Tea is regarded as something belonging to the gods. For the Tibetan, from Zanpu (King) to Lama, from the rulers to ordinary citizens, they eat more cheese and meat than vegetable and fruit, so tea becomes an indispensable beverage to them in every meal. 

Major kinds of tea drunk by the Tibetans include buttered tea, tea with milk, tea with salt, and green tea. According to a survey, 73.9 percent of the respondents voted the buttered tea as the most popular kind followed by the tea with milk. 

The buttered tea takes tea as its main material mixed with some other food, so one will find various tastes when drinking it. The tea not only can get one's body warmed up, but also can nourish the drinker. 

There is a set of rules to follow when one visits a Tibetan family and is invited to drink the buttered tea. One cannot drink up the whole bowl of tea in one breath, but lick the mushy tea while drink it. The hospitable host often keeps the guests' bowl filled up; so don't touch the bowl if you don't want to drink the tea. If you have had enough and cannot drink anymore, you may leave the bowl there for the moment and drink up the tea when you're leaving. Only one follows these rules in line with the customs and manners of the Tibetans can she/he receive a warm welcome from them. 

Dai Ethnic Minority: Bamboo Tube Tea 

The Dai ethnic minority is a hospitable people good at singing and dancing. 

Bamboo-tube tea is known as Laduo in Dai language. The producing procedure of bamboo-tube tea is quite special, which can be divided into three steps. 1) Put the tea into bamboo tube. Put the dried spring tea (the tea growing in the spring time) or preliminary-processed tea into the bamboo tube. The bamboo used should be just chopped down and has a growing period of about one year. 2) Bake the tea. Put the bamboo tube on the fire for 6 to 7 minutes until the tealeaves is softened. Press the tealeaves with a wooden stick, and then fill up the tube again with more tealeaves. Repeat this procedure until tealeaves in the tube are compacted. 3) Take out the tea. When tealeaves are completely baked, cut open the tube with a knife and take out the column-shaped bamboo-tube tea. 

After everybody sits at the round bamboo table, we can make the bamboo-tube tea. 1) Make the tea. Break off some bamboo-tube tea with fingers and put it into teacups, then pour boiling water with an amount of 7/10 or 8/10 cup. After 3 to 5 minutes of brewing, the tea is ready. 2) Drink the tea. The bamboo-tube tea has the pure taste of tea as well as the strong flavor of bamboo. One will find everything new and fresh when drinking the delicious tea. 

Dong Ethnic Minority: Oil Tea

As one favorable tea of Dong ethnic minority, oil tea is like a kind of dish which can allay one's hunger, expel the wind and humid air, stimulate the appetite and prevent one from catching cold. For a people living in mountain areas all years round, the oil tea is really a kind of beverage that helps to improve one's health. 

The procedure of making the oil tea has four steps.

First, choose tea. There are two kinds of tea which can be used to make the oil tea, one is specially-baked tea dust, and the other is tender leaves and buds just picked from tea trees. Which one to choose depends on different drinkers' taste. 

Second, prepare other materials, including pignut, popcorn, soybean, sesame, polished glutinous rice, and dried bamboo shoot 

Third, make tea. 

If the tea is made for a cerebration or a banquet, then the fourth step is required, that is to prepare the tea. One needs to fry the prepared materials and put them into bowls, then filtrate tealeaves before pouring the brewed tea into those bowls when the tea is still hot. 

When the oil tea is nearly ready, the host will invite guests to take their seat around the table. Since various foods are mixed in the tea, one needs to eat the oil tea with the assistance of chopsticks. To return the host's hospitality, guests always pay a high compliment to the host by making clicks of tongue when eating the delicious tea. 

Because there are many materials to prepare when making the oil tea and the brewing procedure is complicated, so many people invite oil-tea experts to help them during important occasions. 

Be careful with the phrase eat the oil tea, because it has a special meaning of man proposing to woman in Dong's tradition. When a matchmaker visits a girl's family and says to her parents, someone has asked me to get a bowl of oil tea, if the parents agree to let her get one, it means that the girl's family accepts the marriage. 

Mongolian Ethnic Minority: Tea with Milk

Living in Inner Mongolia and some areas adjoining to the province, the Mongolians mainly live on beef and mutton, complemented with rice and vegetables. The brick tea is an indispensable beverage to herdsmen and drinking salty tea with milk is a Mongolian tradition. The Mongolians usually have tea three times and one meal a day. To drink salty tea with milk is not only a way of quenching thirst but also the main nourishing source. Every morning, the first thing that a housewife does is to prepare a pot of salty tea with milk for the whole family. The Mongolians like drinking hot tea, so they usually drink the tea while eating fried rice in the morning and leave the pot on the fire. Every day, Mongolians go out in the early morning and graze the herd for a whole day, so they only have one meal in a day after they return home in the evening, but they keep drinking salty tea with milk three times a day. 

The salty tea with milk uses green or black brick tea as its main material and an iron pot as the cooker. Fill the iron pot with 2-3 kilograms of water, and then put 50-80 grams of brick tea pieces into the pot once the water boils. After another 5 minutes, pour milk into the pot with a ratio of 1/5 to water and stir it, and then add certain amount of salt. When the whole pot of the mixture boils, the salty tea with milk is ready to be served. 

Naxi Ethnic Minority: Fight between Dragon and Tiger Tea and Salty Tea

The Naxi people lives on the cold plateau in northwest Yunnan Province where the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain lies and three rivers are running, namely the Jinsha River, the Lancang River and the Yalong River. The fight between dragon and tiger tea, a kind of tea mixed with white spirit mainly distilled from sorghum or maize, is regarded as a good medicine to dispel cold, so it is favored by the Naxi people.

The brewing method of fight between dragon and tiger tea is also very special. First, put some tea in a galipot when the water is boiling on the fire, and then baked the tea together with the pot. To avoid that the tea is singed, one needs to keep on turning the pot to let the tea be heated evenly. When the scent of the tea is baked out, pour the boiling water in the pot and cook it for 3-5 minutes. At the same time, pour the white spirit into a cap-cup with an amount of half cup, and then add the tea into the same cup. When the two kinds of liquid mix together, they will give out crack sound, which is regarded as a good omen by the Naxi people, so louder the sound, happier the people on the spot. The tea is also believed to be a good medicine to cure cold, so better drink the tea when it is still hot. One can refresh oneself through drinking the delicious and strong tea. When making the fight between dragon and tiger tea, one must not pour the white spirit into the tea, but the other way round. 

The brewing procedure of the salty tea is similar to that of the fight between dragon and tiger tea, but only replace the white spirit with salt. The Naxi people also make other kinds of tea, such as the oil tea which is made by adding cooking oil and sugar tea by adding sugar.

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