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Archive for the ‘Rituals’ Category

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!

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Careful consideration about the many pleasures of tea rituals goes on.

This time I started thinking about ‘tea meal’, the idea of gathering a small group of people to enjoy together a good cup of tea.

But, to better understand dynamics and social elements of a tea meal and to see how different this rituals can be from the ones that usuallly took place a century ago, I decided to hold a little Tea Party 🙂 .

Quite an eterogeneous group of young students get together the 17th of March in my little apartment: eight different people to see if ‘brewing’ is still alive.

At 5pm my table was covered with cakes, pastries and cookies; 10 kinds of blended tea were ready to be sipped!

Conversation started immediatly: tea was in their cups and on their lips!

Helen, my chinese friend, immediatly told us how different tea is in her country; they drink it as we do with coffe, in very small cups with no blends as we think of them.

“Then, why do Britains use bigger cups?” “Why do european country such as France and Belgium have always love to blend tea in their tradion?” “Do French and Belgian people have a tradion in tea at all?” “Really?” “Yes, above all with flowers contrary to the Russians” “The Russian? Do they drink tea?” “ Yes, they do. Their tea are with parings of citrus fruits…” “ Are they? Citrus fruits?”

History, tradition, contemporary art and cooking were also among the most discussed topics.

These conversations went on with an only, constant request, timid at first then louder every time: “ Can I have some more tea, please?”.

Yes, of course you can 😉

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It makes me always smirk the idea that many of my coetaneous have of brewing tea: old, obsolete, a dead tradition; the best you can hear is that some of them enjoy it cold, on a hot sunny day at the beach- which is not bad, but is not “really” sipping tea.

Just think about all the action everyone has to do for drinking a cup of tea: you boil the water and wait for the kettle to “sing”; then you choose the leaves you want- no teabags, of course – and put it into the water; you wait again and then you finally pour it in your cup, sit and enjoy.

Can you see it?

It’s all about TIME.

It’s about you, taking meticulousy care of something with beating but slow times.

It’s about meditation. It’s the impression of feeling safe, it’s the sensation of home and heart .

When you drink tea you should try to get aware of what are you really doing; you should become conscious of all those wars and rebellions that tea has fight for or against colonial power and finally understand its role throught modernity.

When you catch this, who needs movies anymore? 😉

Roberta

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