It was a boring rainy day in Milan, a couple of days ago.
To me, the only way to cheer up a little was to make some tea: I choose a black one, blended with some roses’ blossoms. It actually worked.
When my entry phone buzzed I had just the time for a few sips, then I welcomed my chinese friend, Helen, who came for studying. Apart from being a little wet, I noticed she catched a glimpse of my tea and cordially asked her if she wanted some: she didn’t, actually, since, as she said, she wasn’t much of a fun of the western tea.
<<But why? I mean, this black tea is exactly like a chinese one; it even comes from China!>>
Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. Anyway, now I am concious of my pre-existing state of ignorance on the subject.
Drinking tea in China is kinda holy and can assume different meanings.
Tea is prepered and consumed for showing respect; in Chinese society, the younger generation always shows its respect to the older generation by offering a cup of tea. Even now, inviting and paying for their elders to go to restaurants for tea is a traditional activity on holidays.
It can be prepared for apologizing, for expressing gratitude and as a ritual in marriages, to connect the two families, respectively the one of the bride and the one of the groom.
I was completely amazed by these diversity; so, I started asking for more.
She told me about the different kinds of ways a tea can be brewed.
There’s the “Chaou brewing”, which is composed by a lid, a cup and a soucer; Chaou brewing is usually employed in tea-testings situations, such as when buying tea, where neutrality in taste and ease of access to brewing leaves for viewing and sniffing is important.
Then, there’s another kind of brewing, the so-colled “Gongfu Chadao Brewing”. It makes use of small Yixings teawares teapot to enhance the aesthetics, and more importantly to “round out” the taste of the tea being brewed. This kind of brewing is quite formal, and is used for private enjoyment of the tea as well as for welcoming guests. This ritual is considered to be a kind of art.
Quite an enlightening afternoon!
Personally I can’t choose between eastern and western tradion on this matter; I am not even sure anymore there’s a ‘battle’ going on here. But I let you decide your own favourite…
… as long as you enjoy a very good brew! 😉
Ps.I attached two videos I found online that shows very well how different these rituals are!