Tea Ceremonies Around the World
For more than 5,000 years, humanity has celebrated the luxury of tea drinking. The first pots of the aromatic dark liquid were steeped by the Chinese Emperor Neng Shong. As legend goes, the emperor was a skilled scientist. One day while working with leaves in his palace apothecary, the Emperor spilled a basket of leaves into a pot of boiling water. The emperor was so overcome by the aroma of the steaming liquid that he couldn’t resist drinking it. Thus, tea drinking was born. Most historians now feel that this account is quite unreliable and that the origins of tea will remain lost to history. Despite our being unable to know the exact origins of tea drinking, no one can deny the influence of the Orient on modern tea consumption.
Replacements has recently researched several ancient Asian tea ceremonies, including those of China and Japan. You can use this information to help you prepare to host a tea ceremony or to attend one.
The Art of Tea in China
Tea is a casual but highly respected affair throughout China. Throughout China’s metropolitan cities and rural country sides, one can find tea shops and tea gardens. Drinking tea suffuses china’s society, religion, and culture. For years, China has been known as the “homeland of tea.” Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in tea drinking ceremonies. There are five types of tea that are regularly grown in China – Green Tea, Black Tea, Wulong Tea, Compressed Tea, and Scented Tea. China’s rich soils and varied growing seasons allow for various types of tea to be grown throughout the year.
Green teas are not fermented before they are processed and retain their original color throughout processing. Black teas are fermented before they are processed for the tea drinking process. Wulong teas are a combination of green and black teas. Wulong tea leaves are allowed to ferment for a short period of time while being processed. Compressed tea is black tea that has been compressed into a brick. “Brick tea” is commonly found in the rural parts of china. Scented teas are mixed with scented flowers during processing. The most popular scented teas in China are made from mandarin and magnolia leaves.
The Chinese tea ceremony focuses primarily on the tea itself as opposed to the rigidity of the ceremony itself. Usually, two or three people gather to taste a variety of teas. There is generally a host and the ceremony is relatively quiet. Participants in a Chinese tea ceremony concern themselves with the taste of each tea, how the tea is served, the smell of each tea, and the graciousness of the host. There are no time restraints and tea can be served almost anywhere.
Tea in Japan
The Japanese tea ceremony is one of the most rigid ceremonies practiced in the Orient. Nearly every step of the ceremony is dictated by tradition. The Japanese tea ceremony is suffused with religion and spirituality. Generally, the ceremony takes place in a tea garden or in a tea house and is overseen by a tea host or learned tea instructor. There are several different ways in which the tea ceremony can be performed. What follows is what we have researched to be one of the most popular forms of the ceremony. Keep in mind that this is an overview of the ceremony. By using the internet as a research tool, you will be able to find out more details involving Japan’s ancient tea ceremonies.
First, take a teacup from your host and return to your seat. Second, place your teacup between you and the tea instructor. Bow to your tea instructor. After that, place the teacup in front of your knees and bow to your instructor. Then, take the teacup with right hand and place it in the palm of your left hand. Turn the teacup clockwise twice to avoid drinking from the front side of the teacup and drink. Be sure to drink all of the tea that has been offered to you. Finally, turn the teacup counterclockwise and place it in front of you.