Kungfu Tea, I here you asking? Yes, there really does exist something called Kungfu tea.
It is a kind of tea ceremony, and actually we have been practicing it for a while with our kungfu students.
But what I wanted to share today was the time we went to Huangshan to learn about Huangshan’s tea culture. It was one of my most memorable experiences. I loved being tea farmer for one day, even though it was incredibly difficult.
We also got the chance to learn from a master in Chinese tea ceremonies, and perform our Kungfu for him. Though, I have to admit I wasn’t too excited about the second part, and neither was my hubby for that matter. But we made the best out of it, and it made for many funny pictures.
The Master of Tea Ceremonies
I have learned about Chinese tea ceremonies a while ago. Every year, when our students from all around the world come to China to train Kungfu, we usually teach them about Chinese tea and how to hold authentic ceremony. However, as this visit with the Master of Tea was still part of the Anhui International TV documentary, I had to pretend to not even know how to hold the tea cup.
A real tea ceremony has a specific procedure and should ideally be carried out in a peaceful and relaxing environment. The place we went to was perfect. They even invited a girl to play on Guzheng 古筝, a traditional Chinese zither.
Preparing the Tea
- The first stage of preparation is known as温壶烫杯 wenhu tangbei, which literally mean “warming the pot and heating the cups”. Usually the cups and the pot are on the table and are then warmed and sterilized with hot water.
- The next step is known as 乌龙入宫 wulong rugong, which means “The black dragon enters the palace”. This term can be traced back to the use of Oolong tea, as it means “Black Dragon”. The teapot can now be filled with tea. Usually for a 150 ml tea pot at least 5 grams of tea leaves are used, but it can depend on the size of the pot and the strength of the tea you want.
- Next the tea leaves are rinsed using hot water poured from some height above the pot, this is known as悬壶高冲 xuanhu gaochong, meaning “rinsing from an elevated pot”. It is important that the water is not too hot as not to burn the tea leaves.
- Usually this first brew is poured into the cups but is not drunk, 行雲流水 hangyun liushui, meaning “A row of clouds, running water”. So it’s more or less a first cleansing of the tea leaves.
- 回旋低斟 huixuan dizhen, meaning “pouring again from a low height”. I have learned that it is very important to pure the tea from a height, because the force of water is used to rinse the tea leaves.
Serving the Tea
- After the tea has been brewed for 20 to 30 seconds, it’s poured evenly into the teacups, in a circular manner around the guests. A quality tea can be brewed for 4 to 8 times. Some teas can last for 8 or more rounds.
Even though there are a few things you have to pay attention to when doing a tea ceremony, it is not as strict as it sounds. It is possible to have a relaxed gathering with friends, during which you can chat and laugh and enjoy the tea you brew. But it’s usually only the host who prepares and serves the tea to all the guests.
Real Kungfu with Kungfu Tea
My husband and I had prepared our uniforms; after all we wanted to at least look the part.
We both hadn’t been training for several months due to other commitments, and like always my better half wasn’t too fond to perform in front of a camera crew.
It took us a while of arguing back and forth on what we were going to do. The TV crew told us to be natural and only practice a bit, so they could get a few shots.
Telling me to be “natural and only practice a bit” looked like this:
Some people say I am crazy and should better control my face expression. Especially in China it is not seen in a good light it a girl jumps around, and shows lots of different face expressions. We should be modest, and quiet, and not laugh too loud… or at all… I never adapted to that part. I can’t help it.
And only with this kind of spirit I manage to get my husband out of his little shell, being more free and open to the world. We ended up having a blast. After performing a few simple forms (hello xiaohong form!) and tricks, people started to gather around us.
Apparently a foreigner learning about tea ceremony is not as spectacular as a foreigner and her Chinese husband performing Kungfu.
Within minutes we had a huge crowd around us and the filming turned into a Kungfu class. Even our camera men started to join in. Everyone had some kind of knowledge about Kungfu. So, I can tell you, the stereotype that “every Chinese knows Kungfu” is not too far off! The best part was when a few older ladies and their husbands joined us. One 70 or so year old man started to show us how it’s really done. He was still flexible as a rubber band! This is my goal for when I am the same age! It is inspiring what some of China’s older generation can still do…
In the end our director decided to conclude the shoot for the day and we stayed on chatting, drinking tea and kicking and punching the air.
It was truly a new form of Kungfu Tea Ceremony. One I will never forget.
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