The year 2737 B.C. is when my favorite legend of how tea was first discovered takes place. Shen Nung, emperor, scholar and herbalist understood that water was safer to drink if it had been boiled. While sitting under a large bush (can you guess what bush? That's right, Camelia Sinensis.) a few stray leaves drifted down and fell by chance into the cauldron of water he was boiling. He tasted the brew, found it refreshingly delicious and recognized it's healthful properties.
As Reverend Sydney Smith said "Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea."
Aren't we all grateful that Shen Nung made his discovery? Since then the love for tea has grown around the world and is the beverage drank most after water. Many cultures developed tea ceremonies to honor the liquid that refreshes, calms, energizes, clears the mind and offers us many health benefits. There is the Chinese tea ceremony "Gongfu Cha", the Japanese tea ceremony "The Way of Tea", the Korean tea ceremony "Dayre" and, of course, the English tea ceremony "Afternoon Tea".
I utilize the Gongfu Cha Chinese Tea Ceremony at my tea tasting events and find it to be almost a meditation. During the ceremony you study the tea leaves, the aroma, the feel of it in your mouth, admire the liquor and take pleasure in the taste. The various steps allow you time to relax, focus on the tea and savor all it's facets. I am always amazed at the subtle differences between teas and inevitably discover new teas to enjoy.
To view an example of the Gongfu Cha Chinese Tea Ceremony watch this youtube video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4eDYmRSpZI&NR=1 (if the link doesn't work, you can copy and paste it into your web browser)
To view an example of the Japanese Tea Ceremony watch this youtube video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RcjT9mVfKE (if the link doesn't work, you can copy and past it into your web browser)
In my next post I will share how the English Afternoon Tea ceremony began. Until then, "When in doubt, brew up" and enjoy that cuppa.
Happy Tea Times,