More Tea Please!

October 17th, 2019
An excellent way of introducing mindfulness into your business to support staff wellbeing.

A few months ago I attended a tea ceremony conducted by Yi Zeng of Yi Cha, and I wrote a short article about it.

At that time, I reported mainly on the fact that the entire experience was not as anticipated, given it was an expected immersion into Chinese culture.

Tonight I attended another ceremony with Yi, and this time we had an hour of yoga beforehand, led by The Painted Porch Yoga school. We were a curious group of 12 and the combination of yoga and Chinese tea was an excellent blend (excusing the pun!).

Importantly, however, given I had previously been introduced to the concept of a tea ceremony, I was on this occasion better able to absorb more of what Yi explained about the harvesting, brewing and culture associated with the tea.

Did you know:
  • There are 6 types of Chinese tea?

It is the percentage of fermentation that differentiates between the various types of tea, with green tea being less than 5 %, white tea 5–10%, yellow tea less than 10%, oolong tea 10–60%, black tea 80–85% and dark tea 100%.

  • The best teas are picked from the top of the tea plant?

Tea is harvested by hand as machinery would damage the leaf and only the top 2 or 3 young leaves and bud are picked and dried.

  • Some of the best white and black tea is allowed to age like wine and whiskey?

High quality aged tea improves after a few years. White tea and black tea can age well depending on how they were processed and from what growing region they came. Many families will enjoy sharing the best of their tea with friends, much like some do with wine or spirits.

  • You can buy smoked tea?

Most of the smoked tea we are able to buy in supermarkets is not genuine. Lapsang Souchong is a black tea from the very specific Fujian province of China and it has a smoky flavour due to being dried over a smoking pine fire. History says that it was first created by accident, following a fire at the end of the drying process.

  • The Chinese drink tea from small cups?

Small cups enable the person drinking the tea to experience the emerging taste of high-quality teas. The host who is brewing the tea will continually brew more tea from the same tea leaves, and the flavour of the tea being drunk will change at each stage. For example, the second brew will not be the same as the fifth brew from the same leaves. Due to the preparation in a fairness cup (see the previous article), each participant in a tea ceremony will sample the same strength of tea at the same time.

  • There is a way to show gratitude to your host for sharing tea with you?

A particular finger tapping, that creates a gentle knocking sound with 2 knuckles, known as Finger Kowtow, is performed as a silent thank you to the person serving the tea.

Fancy trying it too?

To participate in a tea ceremony you just need between one and two hours available and someone like Yi to lead it for you. Given its positive effect on wellbeing, it is a perfect activity to include in your business meeting timetable. How about incorporating it into a team day or as a lunchtime or after work activity? How about considering it as an activity to undertake with your Board or visitors to your business? Some employees also choose to conduct their own mini ceremony by simply brewing their own tea the Chinese way, with an authentic tea set and high-quality tea, during staff breaks. The very nature of brewing tea in an authentic way encourages the server to slow down and focus on the present.

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