The Rituals of Drinking Tea
These ceremonies are so intricate that it leaves you amazed. In India its rather simple, go to a roadside stall or old Irani cafes and ask for ‘chai’, there is no custom as such. The tea you get in these places are quite good. Tea is also served during social events or when guests come to the house.
The custom of drinking tea started in China in the Yunan province some 2000 years ago, and it was soon followed by Japan. Let’s look at different cultures where drinking tea entails a ceremony.
The hosts are properly attired in kimonos and the ritual takes place in special tea rooms, which they have basic Japanese decoration, simple flower arrangement and calligraphy.
The tea ceremony is more like an art form because the whole process is done in prescribed movements and procedure. Like the tea cup has to be taken with your right hand and placed on the palm of your left hand, the rim of the cup has to be wiped before passing it on to others.
After the ceremony guests can admire the tea tools and bowls. Its about leaving your worldly pleasures and drifting in the spirit of the tea ceremony.
Korean tea ceremony
Other examples are the Korean tea ceremony, which is similar to the Chinese way of consuming tea. The focus here is enjoying tea in an easy, formal and natural setting. The Korean tea ceremonies follow the three seasons, so the ceramics or equipment varies. It is also based on religious beliefs, like they have Buddhist and Confucian tea rituals. That’s why South Korea is known for its ceramics and porcelain.
Tibetan butter tea
Such elaborate and meaningful tea ceremonies exist in Asian countries, but some are strange as well. Like in Tibet, tea is made from butter, milk and salt, can’t imagine putting salt and butter in tea.
There are few rules related to Tibetan tea drinking, the host will serve barley wine, then the guest has to dip his finger in the wine and flick some away.
This is done to show respect for the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, after which the guest has to empty the bowl and is then served tea.
On the other hand, western countries like UK and USA don’t have ceremonies as such, tea is consumed any time during the day, in the morning before work or after lunch.
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