The modern person demands everything to be as quick as possible. People are using machines to make tea because they are more concerned about quantity and efficiency than the traditional process of making it. The traditional process, however, possesses its own special rhythm and aroma, but is slowly disappearing from modern life. This year Meimen Qigong Culture Center’s Meimen Tea Cafe in Taipei has invited Li Chao-chieh, a renowned tea expert, to give lessons on the traditional art of making tea. It is hoping to raise the level of growing, making and drinking tea to that of wine tasting in Europe.
Liang Ya-chung, president of the Dashu Association, took part in this year’s tea-making events to gain a better understanding of the meticulous process of tea-making. He says that Li, who has 30 years of experience in making tea, follows traditional tea-making methods very closely, which are very time consuming and require a lot of effort, for example, understanding how to cultivate Camellia sinensis bushes, as well as the plucking, withering, oxidation, disruption, fixation, bruising, rolling, and sweltering of tealeaves, all of which are carried out in scrupulous detail.
With traditional tea-making processes, the daily weather — including humidity and temperature — must be taken into account during every step of the process. Sight, smell, and touch are also used during the process to determine the tealeaves’ level of oxidization and when to proceed to the next step, which is how you get rid of weed-like odors, and unwanted flavors, and ensure that the fragrant aromas and abundant nutrients of the tealeaves are preserved.
Tea aficionados will usually tell you that really great tea will not keep you up at night or cause an upset stomach, and that it can be brewed several times without losing its flavor.
1. scrupulous adj.
一絲不苟的 (yi4 si1 bu4 gou3 de5)
例: His scrupulous adherence to the rules caused scorn among his peers.
2. humidity n.
溼度 (shi1 du4)
例: This high humidity makes my hair frizzy.
3. upset stomach n. phr.
腸胃不適 (chang2 wei4 bu2 shi4)
例: Julie’s had an upset stomach for the past three days. She really should see a doctor.
Liang says Asians have been drinking tea for thousands of years, and that the history of tea drinking culture in Asia is just as rich as that of the wine drinking culture of the West. On the other hand, the West has developed a wine tasting culture that respects the cultivation and harvesting of grapes, the wine-making process, the characteristics of wine produced in different regions and years, and even have a system for critiquing and comparing them. The similarly meticulous processes involved in the art of tea, however, have yet to receive the proper respect they deserve, Liang says.
In today’s industrialized and commercialized societies everything is so fast-paced, and tea-making processes now require the efficiency of mechanical mass production. Young people typically drink the bottled teas that are found in convenience store refrigerators, which is lamentable because it makes preserving the values of traditional tea-drinking cultures extremely difficult.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)