Fountain Tea House – 博雅茗筑


Tea Culture

Ancient tea ceremonyJust as coffee became a part of daily life in the West, tea became a part of daily life in China. One can see teahouses scattered on the streets of China, much like cafes on the streets of the West. The Chinese have such a close relationship with tea that a new cultural phenomenon relating to tea is rising up in China. It goes by the pleasant name of “Tea Culture”. Tea Culture includes articles, poems, pictures about tea, the art of making and drinking tea, and some customs about tea.

Among the customs, a host will only fill a teacup to seven-tenths of its capacity. It is said that the other three-tenths will be filled with friendship and affection. Moreover, the teacup should be emptied in three gulps.

Tea plays an important role in Chinese social and emotional life. Tea is always offered to a guest immediately upon entering a Chinese home. Serving a cup of tea is more than a matter of mere politeness. It is a symbol of togetherness, a sharing of something enjoyable, and a way of showing respect to visitors. In some areas of China, it might be considered rude not to take at least a sip.

We normally think of tea drinking as an invitation to stay and socialize. In earlier times, however, the drinking of tea could signal the close to the social encounter. This was particularly true when one visited one’s superior. When the guest reached the host’s home, the host would offer his guest a cup of tea. They would then talk. When the host wanted his guest to leave, he would signal this by holding his own cup of tea and drinking it. The guest would then know that the host wanted him to leave and would ask to leave.

Although there has been an increasing amount of literature about tea in recent years, such literature is certainly not new. During the Song Dynasty, Lu Yu, who is known as the “Tea Sage”, wrote the Tea Scripture. This scripture describes in detail the processes of planting tea bushes, harvesting tea leaves, preparing harvested leaves for the brewing of tea. Famous poets such as Li Bai, Du Fu, and Bai Juyi created large numbers of poems about tea. Famous painters Tang Bohu and Wen Zhengming even drew many pictures about tea.

The Chinese give great attention to their tea and the way they drink it. People have high requirements for the quality of the prepared tea leaf, the water they use to brew tea and the wares they use to prepare and serve tea. Normally, the finest tea is grown at altitudes of 3,000 to 7,000 feet (900 to 2,100 meters). People select their water carefully. The Chinese emphasize water quality and water taste. Fine water must be pure, sweet, cool, clean, and flowing. Water from good springs is always considered best, as is rainwater from autumn and the rainy seasons.

Chinese prefer pottery wares to wares made of metal or other materials. The best choice is the purple clay wares made in Yixing and Jingdezhen, Jiangsu province. The purple clay of this region gives the wares their internationally-known purple color.

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