Despite the fact that many people treat the Chinese with some degree of prejudice, this nation undoubtedly deserves respect.
Hardworking as ants and believing in ancient legends, they strictly observe their ancient traditions, despite modern trends. One of these traditions is the Chinese tea ceremony.
China’s tea traditions have been formed for thousands of years. Residents of the Middle Kingdom consider this drink to be the most important things necessary for daily use, along with rice, salt, soy sauce and butter. Green, black, white, red tea is drunk here not only to quench your thirst.
And depending on the circumstances, the types of tea ceremonies also change:
“Sign of respect” – treating a cup of tea to an older person by age or position, a person expresses his respect to him. So, gatherings with older relatives in the tea room – one of the favorite Sunday activities of the Chinese. As for social relations between employees, in the recent past there were those times when tea was served by a junior employee.
“Family meeting” – joint tea parties with relatives in restaurants and tea shops. Most Chinese people try to spend weekends and holidays with their family at a joint tea party, because their family ties are quite strong. “Apology” – after a quarrel, a person who wants to make peace and ask for forgiveness brings a cup of tea as a sign of sincere remorse. “Gratitude to the elders on the wedding day” – the bride and groom, as a sign of respect, bring tea to their parents, kneeling down. Parents drink the drink and bless the young ones.
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“Family unity on the wedding day” – young people bring tea to each relative, calling his name and social status. So they introduce two families and “connect” them into one whole. To refuse tea means to prevent marriage. “Maintaining tradition” is the most popular Chinese tea ceremony, called Gongfu Cha (The Supreme Art of Tea). Friends and relatives gather in the tea room, brew tea and enjoy conversations. The older participants share their wisdom with the younger ones and share their experience with them.
Traditions of the Chinese tea ceremony.
The properly organized process of gongfu cha, according to the Chinese monks, involves all five elements (fire, water, wood, air and earth) and fills the soul with peace.
Before the ceremony begins, it is important to create a harmonious atmosphere of peace and tranquility in the room. The gentle melody of a bamboo flute, the music of the wind, or complete silence can help here.
The role of the person leading the ceremony is also important. After all, he must be not only a professional tea maker, accurately performing all the subtleties of this art, but also a good psychologist, skillfully directing the conversation and supporting all participants to create an exquisite action.
Chinese tea ware.
Tea leaves need to be carefully treated and stored properly. Hard tea boxes, as well as clay and porcelain vessels that are tightly closed and preserve the freshness and aroma of tea, are best suited for this purpose.
For this ceremony, you should get a certain set of Chinese dishes, which will be discussed.
Tea box (cha-hae). Its purpose is to introduce participants to tea.
It is with this ritual that the tea party begins. In order for everyone to see, smell, and touch the tea leaves, the cha-hae is made in a convenient cup shape, slightly elongated on one side. For pouring the tea leaves into the kettle, there is a special hole on one side of the box.
A set of teapots of different sizes made of red clay. Different types of tea require brewing in different vessels to avoid mixing odors. Therefore, every new taste is born in a new teapot. Sets can be made of different types of clay – Issin, purple, and others.
A set of small tea cups that differ in volume, color and shape. Residents of different regions of China drink tea from different dishes.
For example, the northern Chinese prefer large cups with a lid and handle, while the southern Chinese use a whole set of three items (gai-wan) for the tea ceremony.
It includes a deep saucer, a small bowl that is inserted into this saucer and a lid for the bowl. The Chinese also use tea pairings (a very small bowl and a cup of wen-xiang-bei).
They are placed on a beautiful wooden or ceramic tray with small sides. Also for the tea ceremony, you can use ceramic cups covered with white enamel. The choice of tea cups depends on the purpose of the ceremony and the personal preferences of the host.
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Tea board (cha ban). It serves as a stand for the teapot and cups during the ceremony.
Also in the ritual of tea drinking, the Chinese use such items as a tea brush (cha bi), tongs (jia zi), a needle for punching the spout of the teapot (cha tsan), a funnel for the teapot (cha xianlo), as well as a towel, special spoons and strainers.
Stages of the Chinese tea ceremony.
At the very beginning of the ritual, the kettle is rinsed with boiling water, and then the cups are washed with this water.
Here a lot depends on the host – he must be very attentive, focused and calm.
Only in this case, the smoothness of movements will remain, in which the water without stopping (this is important!) it can spill into the dishes. The Chinese believe that a long and continuous, thin stream guarantees the participants of the ceremony a calm and long life.
Before you pour the tea brew into the prepared teapot, you should admire it – look, touch, smell. In the absence of a cha-hae (tea box), its role is performed by a clean, dry palm.
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After all the participants have familiarized themselves with the tea leaves, the ceremony utensils are placed on the tea board – a teapot, cups or tea pairings, and other available accessories.
Then the host pours the tea and pours it with hot water.
All subsequent brewing takes place as the participants drink the tea. When the tea in the teapot is ready, the host pours it into small cups, covers it with wide bowls, turns it over and distributes it to the guests.
Each participant brings their tea to their nose and enjoys the aroma.
With this inhalation, a person adjusts his sensations and subtle channels of perception, plunges into a special peaceful state.
Then they drink the tea in small sips, distributing the infusion throughout the oral cavity and listening to their inner experiences.
Water for the Chinese tea ceremony.
The most important element of a ritual tea party, not counting tea leaves, is water. Ideally, it should be a crystal clear liquid from mountain springs or springs. In extreme cases, from the well.
According to the Chinese, no other water will give a real magic drink and will not allow you to feel the right energy state. But the choice of water is not the only difficulty in this complex matter. It still needs to be properly boiled, observing the cycles of fire.
The Chinese distinguish four stages of boiling:
“Fish eye” – large air bubbles rise up with a quiet noise. “Crab eye” – smaller bubbles rise with an average noise. “Pearl threads” – trickles of bubbles rise to the surface with a distinctly audible noise. “Bubbling spring” – a strong and violent boiling of water (you can not bring it to it, otherwise you will have to start all over again).
The subtleties of Chinese tea drinking.
For different varieties of tea, different methods of brewing are used – this is one of the great many nuances of the Chinese tea ceremony.
For example, tiguanin or any other green tea is more tender than black, rooibos or pu-erh, so less hot water is used to brew it.
Depending on the purpose of the tea ceremony, the tea variety is also chosen. So, oolong is considered a festive drink and it is to him that the Gongfu Cha ceremony is dedicated. This variety is absolutely not suitable for hasty or office tea parties.
A few hours before tea, you can not eat spicy, sweet and sour dishes, as well as drink alcohol, smoke and use perfume.
On an empty stomach, it is advisable not to drink a large amount of tea (on average, a guest is offered up to 20 cups at the ceremony).
In the eyes of a European, the Chinese tea ceremony looks like a mystical and exotic ritual, which has many features and nuances.
But if this action is carried out correctly, even one participation in Kung Fu cha can completely change a person’s idea of tea and even contribute to his spiritual development!