This section is from the book "The International Cook Book", by Alexander Filippini. Also available from Amazon: The international cook book; over 3,300 recipes gathered from all over the world, including many never before published in English. With complete menus of the three meals for every day.
While in the house of Mr. Pun Sung Sang, a very courteous and prominent silk merchant of Bombay, India, I was very much interested in having explained to me many of the high-class Chinese methods of preparing tea, and also their meals. Mr. Pun is of the firm of Yan Shun & Co. His father's and grandfather's firms were among the thirteen most reputable houses selected and given title by the Chinese Government to trade with foreigners when Canton was the only open port, sixty odd years ago, and did a large business with the American firm of Russel & Co. It goes without saying that the Chinese are tea-drinking people, and they indulge.in the beverage from early morning till bedtime. As soon as invited to be seated, a cup of delicious tea, poured from an artificially ornamented box-like pot, taken from a wooden box, was handed to me. I asked Mr. Pun's permission to examine the box, which he courteously gave. It is of artistically decorated bamboo (Malay mambu), large enough to hold the tea vessel for which it is made (usually a gallon); then a double piece of felt cloth, evenly padded with cotton to three inches in thickness, exactly fits interior all round (as well as bottom) up to the brim; the inner covering is carefully sewed up and tightly arranged in the basket or box; the cover is similarly treated and made to properly fit inside, and a neat knot of ribbon is fastened in centre of top of cover as a handle.
A porcelain pot like a water pitcher fits tightly in the box and is always scalded before tea is poured in, then tea is made in the usual way. When sufficiently infused it is immediately strained into the pot, and the box is then placed in a handy part of the room for frequent use. Mr. Pun informed me that tea made as here described keeps in an excellent, hot condition for twelve hours. The tea is poured out and served in beautifully decorated thin cups a little larger than demi-tasses. I have been in every chinaware store in Chinatown, New York, and elsewhere, but I could not find the same article in this country. The nearest to it was in the stores of Wing Yee Lang & Co., 18 Pell Street., Soy Kee & Co., 7 Mott Street., and a large importing house of Grand Street.