Tradition in Asian cultures seem to be more important than in American culture–I have come to learn over the years. There are things that are just done without any real meaning sometimes, or if there is a meaning, we haven’t learned it, or it’s been lost along the years.
This morning I went to the Chinese Tea Ceremony demonstration put on by Confucius Institute. I could tell when I sat down at 10:20ish that I was the first person to come by. The three girls there were very excited to see me and they were extremely warm and kindhearted. They had come to the United States/Oklahoma not too long ago, and it was interesting to see how excited they were about serving me tea. They were dressed in traditional clothing(dresses) with modern pants and shoes, and purses sitting behind them. Coming to the United States, they did not try to assimilate themselves, and rid themselves of their culture. As I sat there watching them pour tea and whisper to each other in Chinese nervously and excitedly, I admired their fluency and it made me miss home.
As more people sat down next to me, they became more excited to share their culture with us, and everyone was happy to listen. When they served chrysanthemum tea, I smiled and thought of my grandmother, who made would dry and make homemade chrysanthemum tea. She is named after chrysanthemums too. It was also interesting to watch people be so interesting in something so simple as tea, from the observers and from the three girls.
I asked if the ceremony was something done daily or just on special occasions. They told me that older people might do this if they had more time. There were certain gestures/actions that were done in specific that the other spectators asked about significance of those acts. The girls didn’t really have a definite answer, but I knew it was just part of tradition. They told us a lot of things were done out of respect for the guests, such as serving the cup with both hands. A lot of the steps were very tedious and specific, and objectively, unnecessary in the whole grand scheme of things. Nowadays, people use tea bag instead of loose leaf, and just dump water it in a mug–even a travel mug sometimes–for their tea. The ceremony took much longer than that, but I enjoyed it. And I could tell the girls did too, if to just share a part of themselves with us. Sometimes something that takes longer is worth it. The extra time is compensated with worth.
Though I don’t think I’ll be using a terracotta or porcelain teapot anytime soon to make my tea.