Once regarded by renowned scientist Joseph Needham, tea was the fifth greatest invention of ancient China, after gunpowder, paper making, printing and the compass. Not only is tea a famous beverage around the globe, it also plays a tremendous part in Chinese culture as its people respect tea as a precious kind of living creature.
Organised by the China Cultural Centre (Sydney), “Tea and Chinese Humanism”, a talk focusing on the interpretation of tea and its impact on Chinese culture was delivered on 8th December to the Australian general public.
Presenter of the talk, Mr. Wang Quanji, researcher of provincial cultural centre in Zhejiang, a place where produces one of the best quality green teas — Longjing in China, introduced at length the origin, history, types of tea in China.
For Chinese tea ceremony, apart from the high quality of tea, other things also need to be taken into consideration, such as qualified water, beautiful utensils as well as the quiet circumstance for making tea. Prior to the talk, participants were invited by Mr. Wang to join an authentic tea ceremony, experiencing each step of the tea brewing process.
“To make a cup of fabulous tea, qualified water is an important requirement during tea making process; additionally, the texture and shape of the tea set are also very important when making specific type of tea, such as zisha pottery tea set for oolong tea, white porcelain tea set for black tea, and glass tea set for green tea,” said Mr. Wang.
“In China, serving a cup of tea for guests shows the host’s respect; drinking tea is also a necessary step on important occasions; for example, at the wedding party, the bride needs to serve tea to the elders and her friends, and she would say: drink tea please, then the elders and friends will give the wedding gifts to the bride”, Wang explained.
Mr. Wang also referred to numerous historical accounts to introduce the origin and medical effects of tea.
“It is believed that tea was first recorded in Shen Nong’s Herbal Classic, which indicated that tea was discovered by Shen Nong, and it has the medical value of detoxification, ” said Mr. Wang.
“Classic of tea, first book in the world recording detailed information regarding different types of tea, was written by Yu Lu (AD 733-804), who was a tea enthusiast; the masterpiece introduces aspects of growing place, growing environment, function, manufacturing method, brewing process, tasting as well as the ceremony of drinking tea”, Mr. Wang continued to explain to the audience the first academic text about tea in the world.
“This is a very interesting night, the presenter gave us quite a comprehensive introduction of tea and Chinese culture; and the tea ceremony is very relaxing, it’s very impressive to see how tea leaves change [shape and color] during the whole process”, said one participant.
“I really enjoy the whole event, especially the tea ceremony session, it gives me a chance to experience how Chinese people drink tea in their everyday life”, a local guest commented.