Chinese Tea Art

Last Update: 2008-6-19; By Great Traveler

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TOPTea and Water

Light, sweet, moist and transparent water must be selected for infusing tea as water will have a profound influence on the quality feeling of tea soup. To sum up, it must have two features: firstly, sweet and clean:secondly, alive and fresh. Modern water source is not as good as that in ancient times. Hence, the mountain spring, mineral spring and pure water can be selected. If the tap water is selected, a filter should be equipped or the water should be stored in a jar for half a day or one day before it is used for infusing tea.

TOPKungfu Tea

Kungfu tea is not a name of tea or tea category but a technique of making tea. The reason why it is called gongfu tea is that it is extremely particular about the way of making tea. It needs certain Kungfu to infuse tea. This kungfu is the learning of making tea and the skill of tasting tea.

Kungfu  tea, which originated in the Song Dynasty, is most popular in Chaozhou Prefecture (present-day Chaoshan Area) of Guangdong and Zhangzhou and Quanzhou of Fujian. It has followed and further developed the art of tasting tea since the Tang and Song Dynasties.

To savor Chaoshan Kungfu Tea, there are generally four people with both master and guests and the master make tea himself. First of all, light a fire to boil the water and put tea into the tea pot. It is appropriate for the tea to take up one seventh of the volume. When the water is boiling, pour it into the pot and get the lid on. The first step is to rinse the cups. Water the cup with the first infused tea with the purpose of creating the spirit, charm and thorough atmosphere of tea. After rinsing the cup with tea, add some boiling water into the pot. At this time, the tea leaves have spreaded and both the nature and flavor are brought into play. It is time to pour tea. When pouring tea, place four cups together and let the pot make its rounds over the four cupos till each cup is 70 % full. At this time, the tea in the pot also just runs out. The remaining liquid should be poured into four cups in turn by nodding and lifting the pot. This process is called "Lord Guan making his rounds in the city" and "Han Xin Ordering Men to Fight"  by local people of Chaoshan. The quantity and color of tea in the four cups must be the same to be called top grade Kungfu. Lastly, the master presents the tea to the guests acoording to the order of age. He should first offer to the seat of honor and then the guests on both sides. He himself comes last. 

TOPChinese Tea Lore

The Chinese tea lore is several hundred years old and much older than that of Japan. It can be said that the Chinese tea lore places an emphasis on spirit and makes light of form. It also has different representations at different historical stages. Teas are also different but all embody the spirit of "clearness, respect, joy and truthfulness".

Drinking tea: Tea is taken as a beverage to quench thirst.

Tasting tea: Emphasis is placed on the color, fragrance and flavor of the tea, water quality and tea set. When taking tea, the taster should also be able to savor tea carefully.

Tea art: Attention is paid to the environment, atmosphere, music, infusing techniques and interpersonal relationships.

The highest ambit tea lore: Philosophy, ethics and morality are blended into the tea activity. People cultivate their morality and mind and savor life through tasting tea, thereby attaining enjoyment of spirit.

Clearness: It stands for cleanness, incorruptness, quietness and loneliness. The essence of tea art not only seeks the cleanness of the appearance of things, but also pursues the loneliness, tranquility, incorruptness and shame awareness of the mind. In a still ambit, only through drinking clear and pure tea can one appreciate the profoundness of drinking tea.

Respect: Respect is the root of everything on earth and the way of having no enemies. People should show respect for others and be cautious themselves.

Joy: The meaning of harmony lies in form and method, and that of joy is in spirit and affection. Sipping bitterness and swallowing sweetness when drinking tea can enlighten life and cultivate a broad mind and farsightedness so that disputes between others and self disappear. The spirit of joy lies in that people are not pretentious and haughty but dwell in mildness and nurture courteous conduct.

Truthfulness: It refers to truth and genuine knowledge. The supreme good is the whole formed by a combination of truth and genuine knowledge. The goal of the supreme good is to retain nature, remove material desire without being tempted by advantages and disadvantages, study the physical world to gain knowledge and continually seek improvement. In other words, people should use scientific methods to seek the complete sincerity of everything. The essence of drinking tea lies in its enlightening capacity and conscience so that everyone can live a simple life to express their ambition and handle matters thriftily and virtuously in daily life, thus attaining the goal of truth, goodness and beauty.

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