Picture above: Ancient tea banquet
A tea banquet is at the same time a solemn and elegant event, following the strict rules of the tradition. The tea has to be of very high quality, and the water has to result from much acknowledged sources. The tea utensils must be precious and of an outstanding quality.
According to the ritual, during a tea banquet, the person in charge of the ceremony has personally to mix the tea or oversee the blend in sign of respect to the guests. After this, the mixture ought to be seen by everyone and will be smelt for appreciation of its color before tasting.
After three turns, the dinner guests will judge the quality of the tea, will praise the high virtues of the host, take advantage of the landscape and the conversation or write poems.
Under the Ming Dynasty, the usual process grows to be simpler and thought in a more practical view.
Under the Tang dynasty, Lu Yu (733–804) was valued as the Sage of Tea for his contribution to Chinese tea culture. He is best known for his monumental book “The Classic of Tea” (茶经) Cha Jing, the first definitive work on cultivating, making and drinking tea. Cha Jing was the earliest treatise on tea in the world. For Lu Yu, tea symbolized the harmony and mysterious unity of the Universe.
The tea culture reflects the oriental traditional culture, combining the tea with Dao wisdom, pronounced in Chinese as “Dào”, which is an integral part of the Chinese culture.
The Dao of tea stresses the fact of being harmonious, quiet, optimistic and authentic. Peace of mind being the first step to get to tranquillity as a spiritual purpose in order to combine harmony and serenity. The idea is that as long as a person keeps quiet inside, he can always take advantage of the enjoyment of the conversation, of laughter, of the music and the opera (ancient Chinese entertainment).
Ones would say that the tea culture is a kind of intermediate culture which allows to pass on the spirit of the Chinese traditional culture to the future generations.
A famous tea drinker in China’s Tang Dynasty told tea has ten virtues: melting away depression, dissolving lethargy, encouraging liveliness, breaking up illness, bringing virtue and courtesy, expressing respect, making a distinction between different tastes, nurturing the body, practicing Dao, and improving one’s aspirations. “Tea brings Dao and elegance,” he was often heard saying