Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Difference between having a cup of tea, drinking tea and tasting tea? / 飲茶、喝茶和品茶之不同


When you enter into the fragrant world of tea, you will often hear terms like “to have a cup of tea, to drink tea and to taste tea”. You probably wonder hat the differences are.


Having a cup of tea includes tea drinking and tea tasting. There is a difference between tea drinking and tea tasting.


The purpose of drinking tea is to relieve thirst, to satisfy a person's physiological needs, and to supplement water for the human body. Especially after strenuous exercise, there’s a quick outflow of physical strength. You will gulp and swallow until you quench your thirst. There’s not much requirement as to the tea quality, the tea set disposition, the tea choice, as well as the environment, as long as general sanitation standards are met.


The purpose of tea tasting is not for relieving thirst, but focusing more on the spiritual aspect. Tea tasting is regarded as a kind of artistic appreciation and life enjoyment. For tea tasting, the emphasis is on “tasting”, which involves careful experiencing, and gradual savoring. Tea must be of high quality, and the tea set must be fine and exquisite. Water must be superior spring water, and tea-making surroundings must be elegant and tranquil. The tea master often invites 2-3 friends, sit around the table, and drink tea in a carefree way. Through observing the tea leaves, appreciating tea color, smelling tea fragrance, and savoring tea flavor, you will obtain aesthetic enjoyment, and achieve spiritual sublimation. Its main purpose lies in the state of mind and not quantity; drink or stop at will. “Relieving thirst” seems insignificant in tea tasting.


There’s vitality of Mother Nature within tea. Its cultural connotation unified literature, music, and art, and has become a link to Chinese culture. The "Second sage of tea" Lu Tong once made the “seven bowls of tea” poem, which vividly describes the advantages of tea tasting in an ideal situation. The poem is very thought-provoking, and has become an immortal masterpiece.


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