The Traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony (Part II) - Rivertea Blog
Carmen Rotaru | On 03, Feb 2013
Tea was and remains a central piece in the Asian cultures, especially in China where it first originated. Discover the wonderful atmosphere of a traditional Chinese tea ceremony and find out what does the art of drinking tea really means.
Discover the Chinese tea ceremony’s history and tips for a perfect ritual in the part I of the article.
Tools Needed for a Chinese Tea Ceremony
The perfect traditional Chinese tea ceremony comes with the perfect brewing tools, so let’s find out what Chinese use for the tea ceremony, maybe we will start enjoying it in the comfort of our own homes.
# The most important of them all is the brewing vessel. They usually use a special Yixing teapot, but a porcelain teapot, or a covered bowl gaiwan can also come in handy.
# Another mandatory tool is the tea pitcher or chahai used to ensure the consistency of the tea flavor.You can use at home any matching size decanting vessel.
# A brewing tray is also part of the ceremonial equipment. In a more relaxed version of the ceremony you can also use a deep, flat bottom porcelain plate to hold spills which are not atypical.
# A tea towel or tea cloth can be very useful and is considered rude not to use one. It usually has to be dark-colored.
# A tea spoon or tea pick is needed being used for clearing the teapot spout, and clearing tea leaves.
# Tea cannot be drank if there aren’t any tea cups, traditionally 3 cups.
# A tea timer is always needed to prepare the perfect flavored tea.
# A tea strainer is also mandatory and is sometimes built into the tea pitchers.
Steps of the Chinese Tea Ceremony
The tea ceremony may seem complicated after seeing that so many tools are required and sometimes some optional ones are also used. The traditional tea ceremony isn’t at all complicated and the steps to complete it are actually logical and simple. A nicely organized tea ceremony has a duration of 20 to 25 minutes. The traditional Chinese tea ceremony features the following steps.
# 1 The first stage of the ceremony is completed after warming the teapot and heating the cups. To easily achieve this, the performer of the ceremony needs to heat the water in a kettle and then place the teapot in the hot water together with the cups. After a few minutes the tea pot and the cups must be removed from the warm water.
# 2 The second stage of the tea ceremony includes appreciating the tea. During this step, the tea is passed around for participants to examine and admire its appearance, aroma and quality.
# 3 The third stage of the tea ceremony includes the actual preparing of the tea. The amount of tea and water will vary depending on the type of tea, its quality, and the size of the teapot but generally one teaspoon of tea leaves for every three quarters of a cup of water will suffice.
# 4 The next step includes placing the teapot into the bowl, raising the kettle at shoulder height and pouring the water into the teapot until it overflows. After pouring the water,the performer scoops away bubbles and tea leaves and put the lid on the teapot.
# 5 What the performer does next is to pour all the tea into the tea pitcher and fill the tea snifters. Then, he or she begins placing the tea cups upside down on top of the snifter cups, a ritual act said to bring prosperity and happiness. After which the performer grabs the cups and flips them so the snifter is inverted into the tea cup while removing the snifter to release the tea into the tea cups. The tea isn’t drank, but poured into the bowl.
# 6 The following step is the actual steeping of the tea which can vary depending on the tea leaves, their quality and the size of the tea leaves. Usually for the oolong tea which in general is used for this kind of ceremony the steeping time starts from 30 seconds up to maximum of 10 minutes. After the tea steeps, the host pours the beverage from the teapot into the tea pitcher. Using the tea pitcher, the tea is poured into snifters and then transferred to the tea cups.
# 7 The final step is the actual tea drinking. Good etiquette dictates that tea drinkers cradle the cup with both hands and enjoy the tea’s aroma before taking a sip. The cup should be drunk in three sips. The first sip needs to be a small sip, the second sip is the largest, main sip, and the third sip is meant to enjoy the aftertaste and empty the cup. After everyone has finished the first round of tea, an unlimited number of subsequent rounds of tea can be made. The best part is that oolong tea leaves can be reused up to five times in a row.
Other Tea Ceremonies in China
The Gongfu tea ceremony isn’t the only tea performing ritual in China, but it is the most popular one. There are other tea ceremonies in China with their own significance and practice, depending on the region of origin and history.
Wu-Wo tea ceremony is a style of Chinese tea ceremony which encourages participants to forget who they are. The participants must forget about their knowledge, wealth, and appearance and to establish a group equality without any prejudice. In Chinese Buddhist usage, wuwo translates in Sanskrit as “anatta” meaning “no individual independent existence”. Wu-Wo tea ceremony began in Taiwan and extended in all the Buddhist countries especially in China, being a highly spiritual type of ceremony.
Tea Appreciation Day is held one day during the first weekend of May or as close as possible to it, every year starting with 2005. People and organizations gather together to make and serve tea with the attending individuals and passing strangers alike. The activity also includes lectures or simple conversations, and its content stresses upon tea culture related curriculum. Activity leaders must follow local laws and regulations. There is no need to register with any organization.
Perennial tea ceremony, also known as “Four Season Tea Ceremony” is a Chinese tea ceremony created by Lin Easu of the Ten Ren Teaism Foundation. The Chinese name of the ceremony actually translates as four sequences linked together into the perfect tea ceremony, “spring wind”, “summer dew”, “fall sounds” and “winter sunshine”. This particular tea ceremony wants to stress upon eternal continuity, perfect harmony and respect and love for nature. Each of the four participants required for the ceremony, represents a season of the year, and together with the leader of the ceremony who ignites burners and flowers, these five represent the five Chinese traditional elements and colors, water (black), metal (white), earth (yellow), fire (red) and wood (green).
This was our magic journey through the wonderful world of the Chinese tea ceremonies, unique and featuring though the same ideas: respect and love for nature and respect and love between individuals. Harmony and peace are the central pillars of the Asian culture and traditions.
We’ll soon launch our new incredible tasty tea blends. Join us, there are lots of special gifts waiting for you.