Tea culture is a practice of continuous improvement for making tea, appreciating tea, smelling tea, drinking tea and tasting tea. This practice has gradually developed into a generally accepted principle and hence formed a cultural phenomenon within Chinese culture.
Tea culture has tea as its carrier, via which all kinds of cultures are spread. As a combination of the tea and culture, tea culture contains and reflects the material and spiritual civilizations of a certain period. Tea culture is also a unity of art of tea and human spirits, where human spirits are expressed through art of tea. Tea ceremony is a perfect combination of art of tea and human spirits, and the activities of tea tasting are used to express certain manners, personal characters, artistic conceptions, aesthetic viewpoints and spirits. Chinese tea ceremony focuses on five stages of beauty, namely the beauties in tea, in tea water, in timing, in tea ware and in tea-drinking background.
Chinese tea ceremony is presented in three ways:
1. Tea-cooking: Put tea into the pot filled with water and cook it. Tea cooking in Tang Dynasty was the earliest indication of the art of tea tasting.
2. Tea competition: Tea competition is a tea tasting in which scholars in ancient times brought their own tea and water, for judging good and bad quality teas by checking the shape of tea leaves in the water and tastes of tea soup. Tea competition is also called tea rivalry, which started at the end of Tang Dynasty, and became popular first in the area of Jianzhou, Fujian Province in Song Dynasty. Tea competition was the best way of showing the art of tea in ancient times.
Kung Fu Tea: Started in Qing Dynasty, Gong Fu Tea remains popular in some areas and shows the trace of art of tea dating back to Tang and Song Dynasty. In Qing Dynasty, Kung Fu Tea was popular in areas like Tingzhou, Zhangzhou, Quanzhou, Fujian Province, and Chaozhuo, Guangdong Province. Kung Fu Tea focuses on the skills of tea drinking and tasting.
In tea culture, some principles should be followed. For example, people in Song Dynasty followed the rules of “three ‘Yes’” and” three ‘No’s” in tea tasting. The “three ‘Yes’” made the tea suitable for drinking: the tea is fresh, the tea water is sweet and pure and the tea- wares are clean; weather should be fine; people with good manners and sharing the same interests. While “the three ‘No’s” referred to: tea not being new, the tea water not being sweet and pure; the scenery is not beautiful; and people have no manners and are rude. In those cases, it is better not to have the tea tasting and drinking.