The way we prepare a cup of tea has evolved over the centuries according to the style of the times. Professor Tadahiko Tadahashi of Tokyo Gakugei University teaches that there are three distinct trends in the early development of Chinese tea preparation. Here’s what I learned from his lecture at the 2013 Ocha Zanmai Conference on Chanoyu and Tea Cultures held at San Francisco State University.
In the Tang dynasty (618-906 AD), the style was to boil tea. The Tang era is when tea came into its own as a cultural tradition in China and when Lu Yu wrote, circa 760 AD, the book “The Classic of Tea” 茶经, the first book ever about tea. Yu detailed the Tang dynasty method of preparing tea. The style was to grind a dry tea cake into a powder and boil it in salted water. The tea preparer carefully watched the size of the bubbles to know when to add the salt, when to stir, and when to add a reserve cup of cool water to bring down the temperature. The preferred tea color was green, hence the teacups were made green to augment the liquid color.
|Photo credit: Mason Bryant|
|Photo credit: Miya|