Chinese tea drinking is sometimes equated with meditation. This is a ritual that is carried out slowly, helps to relax, enjoy and fully immerse yourself in Chinese traditions. It belongs to the most colorful traditions, it is already more than 500 years old.
Tea traditions of China.
In China, the cult of respect and reverence for family ties. On the basis of this, the traditions of seminal meetings, expressions of gratitude, respect and apologies were created.
The people of the country have been showing special respect to the elderly for thousands of years, so anyone who gives a person of a respectable age a cup of tea proves a sign of their respect. If the trust and respect are mutual, then an older person will pass a cup of tea to a person who is younger than him.
Tea drinking and observance of the ceremony is a mandatory event at family meetings. Parents are always very happy to meet their children with a cup of aromatic drink.
The tea ceremony is mandatory at weddings as a sign of gratitude. Children serve a cup of flavorful drink to their parents, standing on their knees. Tea drinking, as a traditional event, is also used when introducing the bride and groom to their parents.
To preserve the traditions and pass on the experience, to tell about the rich cultural heritage of China, the tea ceremony always accompanies the meetings of young Chinese with the elderly.
What is the Gong Fu Cha tea ceremony?
A tea ceremony that was formed in China thousands of years ago. She became the progenitor of the entire Chinese tea culture.
The use of tea and its preparation, the choice of raw materials for the drink is an integral part of Chinese traditions. It became especially popular in the 14th century, as tea was the favorite drink of the Chinese emperor of the Ming Dynasty. It was prepared for the ruler from leaves that had a solid shape. Poor people consumed a drink made from raw materials in a crushed form.
From time to time, the dishes for its preparation were changed. In the 15th century, the Chinese invented a special bowl for this purpose – gaiwan. It was used as a cup and a teapot. It is used for drinking and making tea today. It has no handle, has a volume of up to 350 ml. It has a saucer and a cup. A mandatory condition is that all three parts of the service must have the same painting, which indicates a certain status in society. In this service, the saucer is a symbol of the earth, the lid is heaven, and the cup represents a person who confidently exists between the first two elements.
Almost at the same time with gaiwan, the Yixin clay teapot appeared, named after one of the cities in China. Near this city there are deposits of purple clay, which is used for making dishes. The kettle must be fired, which gives the dishes a shine and a light porous structure. This material and its processing allow the walls to “breathe”, but the drink cools down slowly.
What kind of water is used.
To truly enjoy the taste and aroma of tea, water should be carefully selected. The procedure for preparing it for brewing has been passed down for dozens of generations, it is constantly being honed and improved. The water should be free of impurities or odors. Not suitable and very soft – according to legend, it will not saturate the spirit with the forces of the earth. The ideal option is spring water, which originates from the bosom of the earth, will be able to revive the drink and spiritualize it.
The water must be boiled in a separate cauldron. You can only reheat it once, and do not reheat it again, as this degrades its quality and increases its softness. Experienced craftsmen say that the water temperature is determined depending on the type of tea that will be brewed. Professionals in their field determine the temperature of heated water even without a thermometer.
A set of dishes and accessories.
It will be different depending on where the ceremony is held: in Taiwan or in mainland China. The quality of the prepared drink will amaze everyone.
What kind of dishes are used for the ceremony?
Yixin (teapot) and gaiwani (their number should be equal to the number of guests). Gaiwani are mainly used in mainland China. Cha-Hai-dishes made of clay, which is filled with a drink that is infused. It is used to pour the drink into cups. A cauldron (cauldron) for heating water for tea. Xiang Bei and Ping Bei are narrow high and low wide bowls, respectively, which are used for the tea ceremony only in Taiwan. Beinchan – a stand made of porcelain (can be round or square), which helps to form a tea pair into a single whole. A dark-colored linen cloth that wipes away the drops of tea that have flowed on the dishes. Cha-Hae is a paper box for storing dry raw materials for tea. It is given to each participant of the ceremony to get acquainted with the aroma of the future drink, the variety. A porcelain spoon that eliminates the remnants of tea leaves on the edge of the teapot or any other dish. Bamboo spoon for dispensing dry tea. A strainer that acts as a filter on the kettle. Cha-Pan is a large wooden board on which all the tea utensils are placed. Special tongs to remove the tea leaves from the teapot.
How to drink tea in China: a description of the Chinese tea ceremony.
In China, the process of drinking tea is a complex, but also interesting and peculiar procedure. It consists of the following stages:
The owner rinses and warms the yixin for 3 minutes. Everything is done to prepare the brewing and eliminate possible sawing from the walls of the teapot. At the same time, you need to rinse the cups, bowls and other dishes that will be used for the ceremony. The participants of the ceremony get acquainted with the varieties of tea that they have chosen. To do this, the raw materials in Cha-Hae are transferred to all participants. When choosing a variety, each participant evaluates the flavor of the tea and its appearance. The Cha-hae is only passed from left to right in a circle. The whole procession can be accompanied by a conversation, during which there is a praise of tea, the experience of the master and a cozy atmosphere. Xuan Hu Gao – the third stage. The leaves are prepared for brewing. In yixin, water is poured in a thin stream (it should already be at the desired temperature). It is important that gurgling sounds are created. The leaves should be brewed just enough to fully give the drink its aroma and taste. The entire kettle is filled with water. The height of the water jet can also affect how the tea is brewed. It is allowed to keep it up to 70 cm (for the first portion of water). Chun Feng Fu Mian-a procedure during which a porcelain spoon removes all the dirt and specks that have surfaced from the teapot. Once this is done, the teapot is closed with a lid, and the tea is infused for about 2 minutes. The first infusion is drained, it is not accepted to use it. Zai Zhu Qing Kuan – the second brewing of already softened leaves. Only hot water is used, which is poured from a height of no more than 15 cm. It is generally believed that a low jet will give a high-quality drink. Mom Lin Gai – the second purification of brewed leaves from sorinok. After cleaning, the lid is closed again for a minute and this drink can already be offered to guests.
Only the owner of the house prepares and offers tea. First, the yixin tea is poured into a special bowl of justice (Cha Hai) and only then into the bowls. To show their respect and reverence, the drink is first offered to the older guests. The leaves can be re-filled 6 to 16 times, depending on which variety is used.
When bringing the bowl to the mouth, it is allowed to make no more than 3 sips. The first allows you to prepare the taste receptors for drinking the drink. At the second-its taste is evaluated, the third-is important in order to understand the aftertaste. The whole procedure of taking tea is repeated, sips are made at the same time very small.
At the end of the ceremony, the host can offer to get acquainted with the possessed yixin by putting it out of the kettle. This is a sign of gratitude and hospitality. As soon as all the tea is finished, all the utensils for the ceremony are rinsed with water from the vat and put on the Cha Pani. After it dries, it is thoroughly wiped with a linen cloth, no chemical detergents are used.
According to Chinese traditions, it is not allowed to hold a tea ceremony every day. It is usually held at weddings, birthdays. To preserve the traditions and the institution of the family, the family can gather every weekend for the tea ceremony.
The significance of the tea ceremony in modern China.
Even in the modern world, the tea ceremony is so respected and revered that the tea set is worth even in the poorest homes. Such a set has always been considered a symbol of kindness, cordiality and hospitality. The guest here is always held in high esteem, so as a sign of respect, he should sit and drink tea during the conversation. In a special way, even napkins are folded during the ceremony: so that they can protect the house and the person from evil and negativity.
To really get into the tea ceremony, the following types of tea are used: floral, green, Oolong, white, black, red, pu-erh, yellow.
When serving a cup of tea in China, you can express not only your respect, but also an apology. To say “thank you” for tea and hospitality here is not accepted in words, but by tapping a bent finger on the table. The tea ceremony is so firmly embedded in the life of the Chinese that every year on December 15, Tea Day is celebrated here, in 1991, even a museum dedicated to this drink was opened.
The furniture for the ceremony also has a symbolic meaning and is carefully selected. In addition to a set of dishes, there should be comfortable pillows and a low table. Chinese tea is such a traditional drink here that it has several legends of its origin. The first written memories of it can be found about 5000 years ago.