My brother has been enjoying his tea. Last week he took me to meet his friend Brian from New Zealand who is an avid tea drinker and he has taught Henjo a thing or two about drinking the tea. We held a tea ceremony in his beautiful home on a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon.
I will try and explain how they drink the tea in China and Taiwan. First of all there is one person who will perform the ceremony, you can switch turns later, as we did; Brian started and Henjo followed after which I got to try a couple of times, but generally one person is the master the complete ceremony.
The first step the ceremony master takes is to boil the water in the bigger sized pot on an electrical heater that is located next to the table where the ceremony is performed, preferably a tad out of sight since it doesn’t look as nice as all of the fragile china. While the water boils you carefully add the dried tea leaves to the smallest sized tea pot without breaking the leaves. The smallest teapot is used to pour the tea into the tiny cups, and once the water boils you add this water to the tea leaves in the small pot.
After the first batch of tea is poured into the tiny little tea cups, you discard the water from the little cups into a separate container. This first pouring made the tiny glasses hot and ready to go for round one of ceremoniously drinking the tea.
There are usually about 7-15 rounds of tea from one batch of leaves, and the entire ceremony can go on for hours.
I must say at first I assumed a tea ceremony would just consist of some people sitting around pouring and drinking some tea, but when we were doing this together and Brian was pouring the tea so beautifully and calm I could really tell that there was a certain art and zen to this way of drinking tea and I found it quite appropriate for the mindfulness quest that I am currently on. Brian taught me much about the subject and the art of tea drinking on this day and he told me interesting stories about the subject of tea from when he was living in Taiwan; this is where he became interested in tea and the art of drinking it in the Taiwanese way.
In conclusion, the ceremony of drinking tea here in Asia with all of the tiny and fragile china and tea delicacies is nothing short of an art form.