I missed the Tea Time Event from my friend Justine at Eclectic Odds n Sods yesterday because I was invited for a tea ceremony at the house of Lie, my special Chinese friend.
The Tea ceremony demands careful and detailed preparation and high-quality ingredients. Performing it is a ritual, which strengthens friendships, and brings people closer, by engaging in an equally high-quality conversation, which may include laughter, and may deepen to the realm of the soul.
Our tea ceremony was a big treat, and I was truly spoiled to delicious dim sums, teas and conversation. We tasted three types of tea. While finishing preparations, we had Jasmin tea, which Lie considers of lower quality and taste. After that we had three rounds of Oolong tea or Budha tea. Lastly we tasted a special red tea or black tea. Black tea is a type of tea that is more oxidized than oolong, green and white teas. All four types are made from leaves of the Camellia sinensis.
I cannot describe all actions taken at each tea round. It is a unique experience of tasting the different flavors and aromas each time the tea is once more washed and the flavors are softened. This part is like wine tasting. I highly recommend to try it at quality Chinese Tea House.
My tea experience was beautiful because it reflected the quality and depth of our friendship. We come from totally different cultures, but meet as people, who nurture much respect and affection for each other. Our ceremony closed with a surprising gift. You can see in the featured photo my new Teaware.
If you are interested, here you can read more about the Tea Ceremony History.
Tea is a central piece in the Asian cultures, especially in China where it first originated over 5,000 years ago. Tea was cultivated in the beginning mainly as herbal medicine and mostly within temples by Monks.
The Chinese tea ceremony was born as a result of the respect for nature and need for peace which the religious ceremonies involved. The philosophies of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism have blended together giving birth to the Chinese tea ceremony. The traditional tea ceremonies were described as “he” which translates as “peace”, “jing” which translates as “quiet, “yi” which means “enjoyment” and “zhen” meaning “truth”.
As the time passed, Tea ceremonies went from being only religious manifestations to becoming social, cultural and traditional events in different celebrations to honor the royal family or to mark different important events in people’s lives.
One of the first written accounts about the tea ceremonies dates as far back as 1200 years ago, during the Tang Dynasty. Attention to tea preparation and serving were the preoccupations of the Chinese tea connoisseurs which transformed the way tea was regarded by the Chinese.
Key aspects of a Chinese Tea Ceremony
The Asian cultures are perfectionists. When performing a tea ceremony everything needs to be perfect. For each tea ceremony starts with preparing in advance the right atmosphere, the necessary tools and especially taking time to prepare your soul for the entire ritual.
When performing a traditional Chinese tea ceremony there are six important aspects to consider.
# 1 Attitude. Chinese people believe that one’s state of mind or attitude can be passed easily to others. That is why before actually performing the tea ceremony one needs to relax, think about positive aspects of life and be at peace. The entire tea ceremony needs to be done in a calm and relaxed way to truly create a peaceful and unique Chinese tea ceremony.
#2 Tea selection. An oolong tea variety is usually being used for the traditional tea ceremony and sometimes, more rarely, pu-erh can also be used. The tea variety must be carefully selected in advance taking into account both physical and spiritual characteristics. Physical characteristics refer to fragrance, taste and shape while the spiritual ones refer to the tea’s history, name and origin.
#3 Water. A perfect tea needs to be prepared with the perfect water. The best quality tea leaves prepared with inappropriate water give a bad taste to the tea. For the traditional Chinese tea ceremony only the purest and cleanest water is used to make sure a perfect tasting beverage.
#4 Tools. Teaware is needed to ensure the right brewing and the atmosphere of the entire ceremony. The mandatory tools are a Yixing teapot or a porcelain teapot, a tea pitcher or chahai, a brewing tray, a teaspoon, usually three small cups and a tea strainer.
#5 Ambiance. A peaceful and calm ceremony needs a comfortable, quiet and clean room. Chinese usually use artwork and beautiful items to enhance the overall atmosphere and to make their guests feel relaxed and fully enjoy the entire ritual.
#6 The technique. The perfect tea and atmosphere aren’t perfect without a technique to match them. The way of serving should be relaxed and graceful reflected mostly through hand movements, facial expressions and the traditional ceremonial clothing.
I’ve been nominated by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequent Flying Scientist to participate in the 5 Photos / 5 Stories Black and White Photo Challenge. You must check her blog. She’s indeed a scientist, photographer and writer and a frequent flier. You will be delighted to travel with her through her photography and to learn easy and fun science’s experiments, that even you can do. And the icing on the cake is to hear what she has to say about all of that.
At the same time, I’ve been also nominated by Janet at Sustainabilitea to join the 5-day Black and White Challenge. I’m sure you will love to check her blog where she looks at life through her writings and photography. Janet makes stunning photos with her smart phone that makes people wonder why having a DSLR.
I’m combining the two nominations; this is my last post for the double 5-day challenge.
For day 5, I’d like to invite my fellow blogger and consummate photographer Ruby at Rubys Polaroid to join me in this challenge.
The rules of the 5 Photos-5 Stories challenge are:
1) To post a photo every day for 5 days
2) To write a story to accompany your photo for 5 days (this can be fiction or non-fiction, a page, a paragraph or a poem)
3) To nominate a different person each day