Chinese tea ceremony.
Tea ceremonies, as a special ritual of making and drinking tea, are characteristic of many Asian countries. However, the tradition of holding tea ceremonies originates in China, where since ancient times tea has been treated with reverence, as the most spiritual of plants. For the inhabitants of the Middle Kingdom, tea is not just a drink. Through a joint tea party, hospitality is expressed, respect for the elders by age or position, the status of the importance of family relations is fixed, apologies are made, gratitude and submission are expressed.
The tea ceremony is considered one of the spiritual energy practices, with which you can forget about everyday worries and fuss and achieve a state of peace and enlightenment. Therefore, a specially equipped place is chosen for it and certain conditions are created. All actions are performed in the prescribed sequence, and any item of utensils has its own symbolic and practical meaning. Of great importance is the personality of the master of the ceremony, who must carefully monitor the condition of the guests. Imperceptibly, he directs the conversation in the right direction, thereby creating the necessary atmosphere of contemplation and peace of mind for the guests.
The tea utensils used in the ceremony are selected according to the type of tea, the number of participants, and are also intended to reflect the purpose of the ceremony: whether it is leisure, achieving the desired mental state, or simply quenching thirst.
The most famous is the solemn Chinese ceremony of Gongfu Cha, which can be translated as “the highest art of tea drinking”. For this type of ceremony, you need a clay teapot (preferably made of purple-purple Yixing clay), a box with an airtight lid for storing dry tea leaves, a tea board, a jug of “cha-he”, similar in shape to our milk jug, and a tea pair consisting of a high cup-column “wen-xia-bei” and a tiny, literally one sip, bowl of “cha-bei”.
As you know, water is almost the most important component that allows the tea leaf to reveal its aroma and taste as much as possible. Therefore, ideally, it should be spring water and from the place where the tea comes from. But in our urban conditions, this condition is unattainable and the water from the source can be replaced with soft bottled water. The water should not be brought to a violent boil, as its energy is lost and the effect of the tea will decrease somewhat.
The second stage is called the introduction to tea by the Chinese. It is necessary to pour the tea leaves into the “chahe”, bring it to your face and exhale into it to warm the tea a little with your breath, and then inhale to enjoy the natural aroma of dry leaves.
The teapot needs to be warmed up by rinsing it with boiling water from the inside and pouring it around the outside. To ensure that the water does not spread, all the dishes for the ceremony are placed on a tea board: a tray with sides and a double bottom, inside which water is collected after rinsing the dishes, unused remnants of the infusion or accidental splashes. The teapot is filled with 1/3 of the volume with dry tea leaves. It is believed that with this ratio, the ideal concentration of tea infusion is achieved.
The first infusion of tea is not drunk, because its purpose is to rinse the tea leaves from dust particles and warm up the tea pair. Thus, after filling the kettle with boiling water for the first time, it is instantly poured out, rinsing the cups.
The second time the tea is brewed no longer than thirty seconds. After that, the high cups of” wen-xia-bei ” standing in a circle are filled with one continuous movement a little more than half. Guests inhale the aroma of tea. Then the cup-column is tightly covered with a cup-bowl “cha-bay” and the whole structure is turned over. Drink tea and enjoy its taste should already be from “cha-bay”. If there is still some amount of infusion in the kettle, then it is better to drain it.
Depending on the variety and quality of the tea, the brewing process can be repeated from 5 to 10 times. And in the case of Oolong turquoise teas, up to 30 times. At the same time, each time the time of interaction of the leaves with water increases by 5-10 seconds, and the tea gradually reveals its heart and base notes. For everyday tea drinking, a simpler method of brewing is most often used in a “gaivani”, a cup that is placed on a saucer with a deep bottom and covered with a lid. The sequence of actions in general remains the same as during the Gongfu Cha, and the gaiwan serves as a teapot. Water is carefully poured along the wall of the gaivani until 2/3 of the volume is filled. Holding the lid closed, but slightly shifted to the side, the first infusion is also drained, and each subsequent one is poured into cups.
Although the classical Chinese tea ceremony traditionally uses high-quality semi-fermented oolong, many connoisseurs prefer more delicate white and green teas, which reveal themselves well when drinking tea from gaiwan.
In the exclusive collection of the Ahmad Tea company, you can find both main categories of teas at once, perfectly suitable for a tea ceremony. White teas are represented by the unique white Chinese tea from Fujian province “White Peony”. Oolong supporters will enjoy the “Diamond Oolong” and “Milk Oolong” teas. After any tea ceremony, many people feel a special lightness of consciousness and a surge of strength, which can be explained both by the mystical properties of tea and the therapeutic effect of its natural antioxidants, which cleanse the body of toxins.