Yesterday, my aunt had red tea with us with a traditional ritual. We learned so much from her!! The main thing I learned was that I have been drinking tea in the most gruesome manner– pouring hot water into a mug where I had dumped my green tea and letting it cool before drink it. My aunt said my method was “bus-driver tea-drinkng” method. In addition to actually drinking the tea, you must not forsake the whole point of drinking tea, which is to let go of everything and relax.
Anyways, here is the special table where the tea drinking happens. There are countless little utensils for each step. You can see that there are a bunch of little figurines. These are made out of a certain delicate clayish material and are called “tea-pets.” The purpose of them is just for fun– to pour tea over them to wash it. At first I thought it was wasteful to do such a thing but I guess that is supposed to make you feel more at ease… The bronze cow that you see changes to a gold color when you pour hot water on it. The teeny frog on the shell spits out water out of its teeny mouth when it is taken out of the water that it is soaked in. The brush is for sweeping (yes) the excess tea in the wooden tray down to the bronze circlet with the word “cha” , which is the drain.
The quality of the tea is based on how many times a batch can be used before it loses its taste. Regular tea can be soaked 2-3 times whereas high quality tea can be soaked up to 8 times. Then, I was surprised that flower tea (jasmine tea for example) is actually not “real” or traditional. Only green tea, red tea, puer tea, and a few more are the only types that very traditional tea drinkers consume. Each tea had special functions (for example, drinking puer tea is ideal for weight loss) but all of them contain many antidioxants that wash away toxins in your body and plenty of vitamins. Yes, it doesn’t seem so, but it is true! Like the different tea, there are also complimentary tea pots that goes with each kind of tea. To determine the quality of the pots is to examine how delicate the details, how smooth the sides are, and how seamless the lid and the pot attaches to one another.
Let’s just say that my aunt went a little overboard on selecting the high quality tea pots and tea cups. Just a little teal crackled tea cup in which I was served costed her about $50 USD. I cannot fathom how much just one whole set costed her, let alone her entire collection… Even the packet of tea on the brown box was $100 USD that she got in Shanghai.
I have to say that even though this whole tea thing is crazy and time consuming, I truly felt so much more relaxed and energized! I wish I can have a collection of my own–that way, I will not fear losing hair over stress during finals or major tests and also keep my body in a…harmonious state.