Chinese Culture The Tea Ceremony
Tea has been an integral part of Asian tradition for centuries. Tea culture refers to everything, not just the tea — it includes how it is served, when it is served, and what it is served in. It is one of the oldest Asian customs that is still practiced in Chinese culture today. Tea appreciation day, for example, was started in 2005 and is held over one day during the first weekend in May.
Asian cultural heritage has also been practiced in America for quite some time. More than 18 million people in the United States are Asian American, accounting for about 5.8% of the entire population, according to the Pew Research Center. They and their ancestors have brought culture and language to America, adding to the wonderful melting pot already here. The Chinese language is broken up into seven major dialects, each also having variations. Those dialects are Mandarin (spoken by 71.5%), Wu (8.5%), Yue or Cantonese (5%), Xiang (4.8%), Min (4.1%), Hakka (3.7%), and Gan (2.4%).
The Tea Ceremony is a major part of Asian Cultural Heritage, and therefore is one of the Asian cultural events that many Americans are aware of. However, not many actually know the story behind it. Tea got its start in Chinese culture when it was cultivated as an herbal medicine in temples. Monks used it to symbolize peace and humanity. Many of the traditions behind tea stem from religion, peace, and oneness with nature.
Today, they are used as social, cultural, or traditional events, and are often done to commemorate an important time or change in someone’s life. The three main pieces of a perfect tea ceremony are attitude, tea and water type, and tools and technique.
To perform a tea ceremony, one should be relaxed and in a positive frame of mind. Chinese culture dictates that attitude is easily passed to others, so this is essential. You should also pay special attention to what type of tea you use, as different teas are used for different ceremonies. The water used is also important, and should be the purest possible water to symbolize a respect for mother nature. Lastly, while it varies by type of ceremony, there are specific sets of tools to use to brew and serve the perfect tea, and the tea must be served calmly and gracefully.