China - Tea culture
Bailliage of Chongqing
Taking tea with Tea Master Xue

Situated on the banks of the idyllic River Jialing in Chongqing is the Ming Yue Xuan Tea House. Given its delightfully elegant setting it was the perfect location for an exclusive educational event for the Ordre Mondial group within the Bailliage of Chongqing.

Whilst perhaps the Japanese tea ceremony is better known, it was influenced by the Chinese tea culture during ancient and medieval times, starting more than a thousand years ago when tea was first introduced to Japan from China.

A tea ceremony is a ritualistic way of making tea in a process which has been refined to yield the best taste. The art of tasting, making, and serving Chinese tea requires that everything has to be just right. It is not only about smell and taste but also about art, elegance and harmony. Refinement is everything, bringing as it does an inner spiritual content, humility, restraint and simplicity.

One can refer to the whole set of rituals, tools and gestures used in the ceremonies as tea culture. As in many parts of the world tea is in an important part of everyday life. In China, people gather at tea houses to chat, socialise, and enjoy tea, and young people often meet at tea houses for dates!

Returning to the Ming Yue Xuan Tea House, our example of this culture, Tea Master Xue’s careful examination and guided tasting of five grand cru teas - including some of the best-known varieties available - gave a new appreciation of what goes into a cup of tea.

The tea was served in Chinese Gongfu style, meaning “making tea with effort”. This popular method of preparing tea in China makes use of small Yixing teapots holding about 100-150ml. The size is thought to enhance the aesthetics and “round out” the taste of the tea being brewed. Live classical Chinese music and art performances enhanced the experience.

As with fine wine, good tea is a gastronomic delicacy that possesses a deliciously wide range of aromas and flavours so cherish the culture and history by taking time to savour this ancient beverage.

Based on an event report by
Dominik Widmer, Bailli of Chongqing