China introduced the world to many things, and one of the most famous ones is tea. Chinese have been drinking tea for nearly 4000 years. Although the Chinese did invent tea ceremonies, it was in Japan where it flourished hence when hearing tea ceremony, many people think of Japan.
Both the Chinese tea ceremony and Japanese tea ceremony follow the principals of east Asia philosophical point of view. Additionally, the Chinese tea ceremony is based on Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucian, which all reflect just one word, peace.
What is this tea ceremony all about?
The Chinese tea ceremony is not only about drinking tea, but it is also about gaining knowledge about the traditions and culture of China. The tea masters prepare the tea to drink, but this is not the only object they also try to show you a bit of the spiritual world.
The Chinese tea ceremony has three different aspects:
- Based on the way you choose for tea ceremony, you reflect your personality and how the world inside you looks like.
- In every Chinese tea ceremony, pureness and peace are of utmost importance.
- The Chinese tea ceremony is all about genuineness. The organic tea with spring water in a natural environment, tools made from bamboo or other woods and of course, the porcelain tea sets.
Well known forms of Chinese tea ceremony
Chinese tea main focus is on drinking tea, but it also has other equally important aspects. Nourishing the soul and body, learning about Chinese manner and culture and cleansing the mind. Use of fine tea, clean and pure water, controlling the right temperature, and of course, a peaceful environment is also essential in a Chinese tea ceremony.
Tocha or Tea Contrast
Tocha started in the Song dynasty (960-1279) and was considered the highest form of tea ceremonies. Tocha was a game and a trendy one, especially between scholars back then. This tea ceremony or tea contrast happened in tea houses with two floors most of the time.
The guests of the tea house were invited to the top floor where they could see lots of prizes. Then the attendees would drink ten different cups of teas from different varieties. The point was to understand each tea and the source of the water origins correctly.
Tocha’s core idea was later captured by the Japanese tea ceremony.
Kung Fu Tea Ceremony
Kung Fu team ceremony started during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and is the most famous Chinese tea ceremony today. Kung Fu tea ceremony is very popular in the Chaoshan area (Chaozhou City, Shantou City, and Jieyang City) in Guangdong Province.
Tea sets are essential parts in the Kung Fu tea ceremony, and at least ten tea sets are needed for Chaoshan Kung Fu tea ceremony. To practice the Kung Fu tea ceremony, there are five necessary steps:
- Boil some water.
- Put tea leaves in the cup with hot water and let it soak for 30 seconds. Then spill the water.
- Put the wet tea leaves in a tea funnel and filter the impurities.
- Pour the boiled water again and stir the tea leaves a little bit by using the cup lid.
- Pour the tea in the tea funnel again, and it’s ready to drink.
Sichuan Tea Ceremony
Sichuan tea ceremony is an attractive one all because of the tea master. In this Chinese tea ceremony, the tea master would pour boiling water from a 1.2-meter ling copper pot into a tea bowl without splashing any water. These tea masters bring the tea with both acrobatics and Kung Fu skills, which is a sight to see. You can find this Chinese tea ceremony in Chengdu.
Zen Tea Ceremony
The Buddhist monks made a habit of drinking tea by planning and processing it in ancient China and contributed a lot to the Chinese tea evolvement. You can understand this by knowing the relationship between the famous teas and Buddhist temples.
E.g., based on the book of tea, the Lingyin Temple and the Tianzhu temple made West Lake Longjing Tea.
Zen tea ceremony is a mixture of Buddhist practices into tea culture. As the name makes it obvious one of the main reasons the monks loved the tea so much was its relaxing feature which helped them to continue meditating all night long.
Another reason the monks drank so much tea was that it helped their digestion. Tea also enabled them to suppress their sexual desires, which was necessary for a monk.
Below you can see the tools and equipment used for different aspects of the Chinese tea ceremony.
For storing the tea: Chaze, Teaspoon, Tea Funnel, Tea Holder, and Tea Grinder.
For separating tea bricks: Tea Clip, Teaspoon, Tea needle, Tea Paddle, and Tea Knife.
For drinking the tea: Tea Cup, Tea Aroma Cup, Saucer
For washing the tea sets: Tea Tray, Tea Plate, Water Pot, Tea Leaves Pot, Water Basin, Chaikin or Tea Towel, Tea Sets Vessel
Other: Kettle, Tea Brush, Censer
History of Chinese Tea Ceremony
The first place recorded for drinking tea is Sichuan. Since 475 BC and maybe even before that, planting tall tea trees and offering them as a tribute to the rulers were in action.
During the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD), tea has become a popular drink alongside special tea sets. Tea plantation areas were growing and expanded to the east and south of China.
Apart from Sichuan, other areas such as Shanxi, Hunan, Yunnan, Guangxi, Guizhou, Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Anhui also became large tea production areas in China.
Later, each area made its way of the tea ceremony.