Experience the art and culture of Chinese tea

Photo Credit: Zoe Archambault

Photo Credit: Zoe Archambault

Tea is so much more than just a beverage. Brock International and the Confucius Institute invite you to experience a traditional tea ceremony at their Chinese tea workshop.

Monica Xian, the instructor for the Introduction to Chinese Tea Workshop invites attendees to see the everyday beverage as more; the way she sees it.

“I think tea is a kind of performing art like music or painting,” said Xian. “We will present a tea ceremony and in that environment with the setting, teaware, the incense and flowers they can immerse themselves in the artistic atmosphere and in the end you can taste very tasty tea.”

Xian explains that Chinese tea has six tea families. They are green, yellow, white, oolong, dark and black tea. For thousands of years the native plant has been grown in China and is almost like a vegetable for the people of China. It has been traditionally used as medicine to aid in digestion or to cure sore throats. Studies are currently being done through universities like McMaster to learn the benefits of tea for obesity and diabetes.

Beyond the medical side of tea, there is also an art to preparing tea one that the modern-day tea preparation does not do justice. Tea masters pass along this art from generation to generation.

This workshop will hopefully enlighten attendees to the art of tea. The workshop will work through what Xian calls T.R.I.P. These are the key aspects to properly enjoy Chinese tea.  Each of the letters denotes an important aspect of making a quality cup of tea. T stands for temperature, R is for ratio, which is the water to tea ratio, I is for infusing time, which means how long to leave the tea in the water for and P, according to Xian, is the trickiest part of the tea-preparation.

“P is tricky. That represents pouring method which is omitted by most people. Tea has a shape and different oxidation levels and each requires the best pouring method. The end goal, the pace, the speed, how fast you want the water to knock against the tea so that the tea can release the aroma into the tea all go hand in hand with that factor,” said Xian.

These are all factors in pouring the perfect cup of tea.

Tea is important to Chinese culture. Part of the culture is the origins of Chinese tea in the key dynasties in which milestones were achieved in Chinese tea culture. The T’ang dynasty for tea brought the culture of tea to China. The Sung dynasty was the peak of the tea culture and the Ming dynasty introduced loose leaf tea which is the closest to the tea practices today.

Educating students about Chinese tea at workshops is important to educate people on the art of tea pouring. Xian explains there are so many aspects of tea that need to be considered such as tea pouring habits, local cultures, customs, the shape of the leaves and the aroma. These aspects all play a role in tea but it goes even beyond that.

“People here are not familiar with tea culture like in China … We take so much effort to appreciate and treat tea beyond a beverage. It represents our value or philosophy and how we understand ourselves through tea. Chinese people treat tea as a child from the mother nation,” said Xian.

For those interested in learning more about tea, Xian speaks of an important book in tea culture which is translated to The Classic of Tea written centuries ago by Lu Yu.

Join Xian as she delves into the health benefits of tea, the cultural aspects of Chinese tea and the practical skills of appreciating and pouring tea on November 20, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The hosts welcome those who desire to learn the introductory intricacies of tea to GLB 207. More information can be found at Experience BU.

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