Hello, everyone! Today, before I take the floor, I would like to thank all the commenters. Guys, thank you for commenting on the posts. It is with your comments that you often push me to some new thoughts and ideas. It is thanks to them that I find the topics for the following entries. Those who comment constantly, please continue to do so. And, for God’s sake, feel free to those who have never commented before. It’s very simple. I always enjoy comments that make me think.
So, today we will talk about why the dishes for the Chinese tea ceremony are so “outrageously small”. I periodically hear phrases from my Russian friends and acquaintances, such as: “Wait a second, are these cups or glasses?” or “This is a mockery, I will not drink tea from thimbles”… etc. Of course, such things are said by people who are not familiar with Chinese tea culture, and the miniaturization of dishes for the tea ceremony genuinely surprises them.
But really, there must be some practical explanation for these volumes. Why are the tea ceremony dishes so small? I asked this question to my Chinese people, whom I consider to be absolute authorities on the tea topic, and received different answers. Well, let’s take it in order.
The first reason. Underlining. Each drink corresponds to a certain style of tableware. Have you ever thought about it? Cognac glasses are fundamentally different from vodka glasses, while coffee cups are completely different from juice glasses. What is the reason for these differences? The fact that each type of tableware must necessarily emphasize the bright sides of the drink intended for it. Different drinks-hence the different shape and size of the dishes.
The Chinese are incredibly sensitive to tea. They appreciate them, love them, understand them, and often idolize them. In China, tea is not just tea – it is something more. Something that has not only material value, but also spiritual value. Each new sip of tea brings, in the understanding of the Chinese, new strength, calmness, harmony and, in addition, the bliss of taste and aroma. The miniaturization of Chinese tea ware emphasizes the value of this drink. Such a unique drink can be served only in small portions. And otherwise-no way.
The second reason. Meditative. It’s no secret that the Chinese tea ceremony is a kind of meditation. Imagine, when you are not going well, you are upset or just fucking exhausted, you close yourself off from the outside world in your office or in the kitchen. You light a table lamp, take out a tray, dishes, and warm the water. After a few minutes, you begin to manipulate the cups – again and again pour fresh tea into small bowls. Again and again savor the aroma and taste of fresh tea. Somehow, magically, this manipulation of miniature dishes takes away from dark thoughts, makes you switch and relaxes. The tea ceremony completely occupies your mind and your hands. And the outside world retreats for a while.
Any Chinese knows about this from childhood. This is also known to those Russians who practice the tea ceremony “according to the rules”. You will definitely learn about this if you try it at least once. As skeptical as you may be about it, it works.
Thus, the miniaturization of tea utensils sets you up for a certain unhurried mood, makes you fully focus on the process itself and performs a certain meditative role. I hope I’m being clear enough that you understand me.
The third reason. Action. If the Chinese tea ceremony is held in the company of friends – it is always an action. This is not the result. This is a process. Noisy conversations, jokes, jokes, arguments, discussions, jokes, the latest news and much more. The Chinese are great communicators. It is the most sociable nation in the world. They will prefer conversations with friends and acquaintances to all other activities. Tea action is like an axis, a kind of pivot, around which people always gather.
Walking in the evening through the streets of my city, I invariably meet every hundred meters a group of Chinese old men and aunts, who cheerfully and cheerfully make noise around tea trays. They boil, rinse, brew, pour, and brew again, and pour again. The process is non-stop. Miniature pialki walk on hands – one after another, one after another. This many-hour movement can continue until the late evening. It is the tea ceremony as it stands that gathers a giant nation around itself.
Of course, the tea ceremony would look somehow different if the size of the dishes was different. Most likely, everyone would have drunk tea from large mugs and gone home.
The fourth reason. Organoleptic. (And, in my opinion, the most important one). To be honest, I myself am somewhat afraid of the word “organoleptic”. But, if you look at it, there is nothing so complicated. In our case, organoleptics means evaluating tea based on its aroma and taste. So, you will never be able to appreciate the fullness and play of the taste of tea, drinking it from a large ceramic mug. Why? Because each new tea brew in the Chinese tea ceremony reveals some new flavors.
I’ll explain. As a rule, one seven-gram serving of high-quality Chinese tea can withstand from six to nine brews. At the same time, the infusions should be fast (“poured-drained”) and produced in a small volume of gaivani or teapot. So, under these conditions, each new brew reveals certain features of the aroma and taste of tea. If you try, you will definitely feel that the first brew is different from the second, the second – from the third, the third – from the fourth, and so on. It turns out that each new brew gives you some new taste emotions. At the same time, the taste of tea changes from brew to brew, but does not deteriorate! And every time you drink it, it’s like a slightly different drink.
It is this property of Chinese tea that is so appreciated by gourmets. Pour expensive high-quality tea into a two-hundred-gram mug with Mickey Mouse – and that’s it. Hi! Listen – don’t listen, you won’t be able to understand much.
Surely, if you delve into the history of the Chinese tea tradition, you can find some more explanations for the miniaturization of dishes. Perhaps one of the readers will complete me. But I think I have listed the main ones.
Let’s summarize. Is it possible to brew Chinese tea in the large teapots that we Russians are familiar with and drink it from cups and saucers? Definitely. Can. The world will not collapse. In any case, you will drink a quality drink and enjoy it. But keep in mind that from dishes of this caliber, you will not be able to feel the fullness and rainbow of flavors and aromas.
And if you are holding a really good tea in your hands, then I strongly insist that you brew it in a miniature dish exactly as it is customary and as it has been done for centuries in China.
In the same way, if you were holding a bottle of good French cognac for two thousand euros, I would insist on tasting it from cognac glasses, and not from this very mug with Mickey Mouse. You know what I mean?
Each drink has its own dishes. And Chinese tea-also its own. There is no need to argue with this or to argue in favor of the”Russian habit”. But this needs to be understood and accepted. As a given. After all, this is what is called tea culture.