China is a unique country with ancient customs that are revered and passed down from generation to generation. One of the national traditions is the Chinese tea ceremony. It is not just a procedure for drinking tea, but includes a strict sequence of certain actions. The ceremony is fraught with a deep meaning, gives pleasure from a tea drink for each of its participants. The history of this custom dates back to 618 from the provinces of Guangdong and Fujian.
The mystery of tea drinking in China.
The national name of the ritual of drinking tea is Gongfu — Cha. In the second part of the fourteenth century, during the reign of the ancient Ming Dynasty, only the emperor could enjoy tea made from whole tea leaves. This tea was specially grown and harvested for the imperial family. The common people at that time were content with small-leaved and inexpensive varieties of tea.
The setting for the ceremony.
The traditional tea ceremony in China, according to unspoken rules, is held in a tea house. This is a special room that does not have bright lighting. For decoration, soft pastel tones are used using natural shades of color. The very atmosphere of a teahouse should be relaxing and soothing. The main condition is a low table to accommodate all guests and the necessary utensils. Soft rugs or pillows are placed on the floor for guests ‘ comfort. Today, teahouses are a meeting place where you can socialize in a relaxed and relaxed atmosphere. Traditional rugs have been replaced with chaise lounges. Each guest can relax and enjoy a favorite tea drink.
“Chinese tea drinking is a rite, the purpose of which is to saturate the human soul and calm the body.”
Water requirements.
The Gongfu-Cha culture has strict conditions when choosing water. Tea masters have passed on their knowledge to each other for thousands of years when working with water for tea. And over time, this skill turned a set of some rules into a real instruction for the correct preparation of the drink. The choice of water is the main feature with which to start preparing. It should not have foreign odors or have any taste shades. It is assumed that soft water is not suitable for proper tea, since it has a small amount of earth spirit – these are minerals and salts that make the drink persistent and confident.
The tea master determines the optimal heating temperature, taking into account the brewed tea variety. When brewing oolong tea, the optimal temperature is 95 degrees Celsius, and for Pu-erh tea-100 degrees. Tea specialists determined the temperature of boiling water without a thermometer:
76-86-bubbles are formed in a diameter of 3 mm – they are called “crab eyes” by the Chinese, 90-96 – bubbles of a larger size-8 mm, called “fish eyes”.
Music for the ceremony.
The tradition of tea drinking is not only the very procedure of brewing and drinking tea. The national ritual also includes listening to colorful Chinese music.
It is impossible to hold a real tea-drinking ritual without music. Selecting it is a real tea party culture. It should be calm and unobtrusive, and sound like national instruments. You can find an original version, when the musical composition fits the chirping of songbirds, the murmur of a forest stream, the rustle of fallen leaves in the forest.
Thanks for the tea.
Chinese tea culture is not only rich in ancient legends. There is a custom that has come down to our days from the Qin Dynasty. Once the emperor dressed in simple clothes and went to wander around the country to find out what the people thought of him. He went into a tavern and saw two people drinking tea. He sat down with the two customers and began a casual conversation. But they knew at once that this was no ordinary wanderer. They had to kneel, but in this case they would be immediately executed, since the ruler was sacred and ordinary people could not talk to him. Then one person stood up after a conversation over tea and put his middle and index fingers on the table, bending them. With this he told the emperor the following: “We have realized who you are and we know that we are in danger of death for communicating with you. But we want to express our gratitude to you on behalf of our people. With this gesture, we make it clear that we deify and love you.” Now, over tea in China, the interlocutors show respect with a similar sign.
In the Middle Kingdom, they brew and drink tea in any family. Sometimes this custom becomes part of a completely different one. During the wedding, the parents of the bride or groom give them a set for the tea ceremony. They, in turn, offer tea to their parents as a sign of respect for their elders. During the feast, the newlyweds introduce the guests by serving them tea and calling them by name.
What kind of tea is drunk in the Middle Kingdom.
The Chinese rarely use imported tea leaves. This is not necessary when the domestic market is rich in fresh own varieties:
Te Guan Yin, Pu’er, jasmine chrysanthemum Ren Shen Oolong, shu / sheng Pu’er, Longjin Bi Luo Chun.
These are the most common varieties that are used in any family, brewed in inexpensive cafes. In expensive restaurants, you can find elite varieties:
Te Guan Ying, Bei Hao Yin Zheng Feng Huan Dan Qun, Jin Zui Mei Mao Fen.
It should be noted that the Chinese do not like flavored teas. It is brewed mainly natural fruit or without additives with the original composition. There are many more places where you can drink a tea drink in China than there are beer bars in the Czech Republic. And even in ordinary eateries and cafes you can find a very good selection of tea.
Tea ceremony kit.
Translated into Chinese, it sounds like a Chatsui-a tea instrument. Its use entered an active phase around 1981 and later spread to all countries, where it gained popularity. For a long time, the Chinese did not use it, but now it is difficult to imagine the whole process without using it. The inclusion of additional items in the set has a peculiar meaning. Fans of Taoism and Buddhism are sure that the actions carried out by these objects help to relax the mind, and tune in to a tea party.
A modern tea set can consist of a different number of items. The main ones you can see in the photo are gaivani, chakhai and piali.
Gaivani-a clay teapot for brewing. An inexpensive version is made of glass. Chahai – a small teapot or jug for pouring brewed tea into bowls. A bowl is a container for drinking tea. It is made mainly of clay or porcelain.
Further items may be excluded or supplemented depending on the scope of the ritual.
Scoop-for transporting dry tea to the kettle. Before its application, the leaf tea was simply poured with the help of hands or tongs. Tongs – for washing and other manipulations with bowls. Needle-for cleaning the spout of a teapot for brewing or a knife for cutting briquetted tea. Funnel-a safety device for holding tea leaves. The principle of operation is similar to a conventional strainer. The spatula is a tool for analyzing the quality of tea leaves, in brewed and dry form. Brush-used to remove smudges on the dishes or to polish the kettle. Stand for a bowl-it can be square, round or rectangular in shape.
The photo shows a complete set:
When making a set, it is covered with a calligraphic painting or ordinary art drawings. Sets are made by private craftsmen and factories from different materials.
Clay is the most expensive material. Sometimes the items of the set have a design design and its shapes can be very bizarre: animals, people, fairy-tale characters. Wooden-the best option for home use. It is durable and not very expensive. Bamboo is the cheapest material. Suitable for hiking and tea drinking in nature.
When buying a set, you should check it for possible cracks and chips. Such shortcomings, according to the Chinese, bring bad luck. It should be borne in mind that wood and bamboo do not tolerate extreme heat, so you should not leave the set in the open sun for a long time. After use, wipe the items with a wet cloth and wipe them dry.
The Chinese tea tradition is of great importance to the Chinese. It calms the soul and relaxes the body, heals and brings people together. A properly conducted ceremony will allow you to escape from everyday busy days, recharge your inner energy.
The Chinese believe that during a tea party, you can get closer to your ancestors, plunge into the sacred world of the elements of the elements. Real tea cleanses the body of harmful toxins, and the head of unnecessary and vain thoughts.