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About Tea Etiquette

Grooming and Bearing

Grooming

Etiquette is a set of customs and rules for polite behavior in interpersonal communications. It can be said that etiquette is an important part of Chinese Cha Dao. The grooming, bearing, facial expression, posture, and temperament constitute the basic requirements for a tea master. Therefore, a comprehensive study of the etiquette in tea related activities is necessary when practicing tea ceremonies and learning Chinese Cha Dao.

Grooming refers to how we appear to others. This includes the things we do to keep ourselves clean, make-up our face, hair and how we dress; all the things we do to look nice.

Grooming is connected with one's texture of life, the quality of cultural influence, level of self-cultivation and moral character. A person who practices tea ceremony and Chinese Cha Dao should groom properly,In tea related activities, as tea itself is very pure and natural, a tea master's grooming should be consistent with the nature of tea, it is important to show his inner beauty.

For a woman, in order to show respect to her guests, she can use light make-up to look natural, neat and elegant She should not wear heavy make-up because it is inconsistent with the nature of tea as well as being impolite to the guests. Men should be clean shaven and their hair brushed to give a neat and clean appearance before the tea ceremony.

A tea master should dress neatly and gracefully, the clothes should not be too bright or gaily-colored, the heels of the shoes should be low to reflect the demure, elegant and steady character of the tea master in such occasions. For both male and female, their dress should correspond with their figure, skin color, make-up, hairstyle, accessories, tea set and the environment of the ceremony.

Hair should be neatly brushed. If a tea master has short hair, it should not cover his eyes when his head is lowered; if a tea master has long hair,it should be tied up so as not to affect his eye-sight during the tea brewing process.

A tea master's hands should be washed clean before brewing tea, so his hands do not contaminate the tea or the teaware. Fingernails should be neatly cut and clean, a tea master should never have long or polished nails. A tea master should take care daily to keep his hands clean and neat When brewing tea, it is better not to wear any accessories on the hands.

Bearing

Bearing is the way in which one behaves, poses, moves, stands, sits, gestures, and uses facial expressions. master's good bearing in tea related activities is expressed by a beautiful figure. A beautiful figure is based on a good standing posture, and standing posture represents the fundamental manner in which we express ourselves in our daily life, work and interpersonal communications. Therefore, a good standing posture conveys the elegant, decent and affable character of the tea master.

Chinese Cha Dao requires the tea master to stand with his straight. The tea master should look straight ahead, loosen his shoulders, breathe naturally, and also slightly tuck in his chin. A woman should cross her hands at the thumbs, with the right hand on top of the left, and at the height of the lower abdomen, A man should cross his hands at the thumbs with the left hand on top of the right hand, and then put his hands on his lower abdomen. He should open his feet to form an angle like the Chinese character "八"(ba) eight. The standing posture of a tea master should be natural and at ease rather than stiff and rigid.

There are generally four sitting postures when one sits steadily: sitting with knees open and sitting with legs crossed (for men), sitting with knees closed(for women), and kneeling.

To have a good sitting posture, a tea master should coordinate his body with his arms and legs. When moving, stretching or bending his arms and legs he should correspond with the horizontal axis of his head, chest and hips. He should keep his upper body straight, loosen his shoulders, slightly tuck in his chin.

A woman's knees, legs and even her ankles should be pressed together. She may overlap her hands and place them lightly on the point where her two legs meet, her right hand should be on top of her left, or she may place each hand separately on the edge of the tea table.

A man may keep a distance of one fist between his two legs. He should place his left hand on his left leg, his right hand on his right leg, or place his hands separately cm the edge of table.

The tea master should clear his mind to prepare for die tea ceremony. The tea master should never shake or cross his legs, rub his hands together or cross his arms in front of his chest, he should not bend his head or arch his back. The tea master his posture straight and proper to show for the ceremony and his guests.

Facial expulsions, or movement of die eyes, eyebrows, mouth and all facial muscles, indicate changes of mood. Thus, a lea master should keep a natural, serene and elegant facial expression throughout the tea ceremony.

Chinese people say the eyes are the window to one's mind. The eyes provide the central focus point on the face and therefore can reveal the slightest change of mind. In a tea ceremony,a tea master should be composed and focused on the performance, his eyes on the tea table, teaware and his hand movements. He should never glance left or right except when serving tea, the tea master should exchange eye contact with the guests to show them respect.

Hand Gesture

Hand gestures in the tea brewing process and the tea ceremony requires the tea master to move. his hands elegantly, carefully, and smoothly. When putting down a tea cup or some thing, the tea master should appear elegant, reserved and polite. There are many hand gesture, the followings are some basic gestures.

Holding the Teapot

When brewing tea with a teapot the bar gestures used to hold the pot depend on the form and style of the teapot.

1.Closed handle on the side of the teapot

Big-size teapot: Hold the handle with the right-hand four fingers (the right thumb normally touch the handle), press the button or the lid of the teapot with the left forefinger and middle finger.

Medium-size teapot: Hold the handle with the four fingers and use the right thumb press lid of the teapot.

Small-size teapot: Hold the handle with the right thumb and middle finger, and use the right forefinger to press the button of the teapot.

2.Closed handle on the top of the teapot

Hold the handle with the right hand and press the button of the teapot with the left forefinger and middle finger.

3.Open handle on the side of the teapot

Hold the handle with the right-hand four fingers and use the right thumb to press the button of the teapot.

Holding the Teacup

1.Teacup for smelling aroma

Hold the teacup in the center of the right palm or with both hands.

2.Teacup for drinking tea

Teacup with handle: Hold the handle with the right forefinger and middle finger. Women may support the bottom of the cup with the fingertips of the left hand.

Small-size teacup without handle: Hold the edge of the cup with the right thumb and forefinger, support the bottom of the cup with the right middle finger, and naturally curl the right ring finger and little finger

Big-size teacup without handle: Hold the base of the teacup with the right hand. Women may support the bottom with the fingertips of the left hand.

3.Covered bowl

Hold the body of the bowl with the left thumb and forefinger, support the bottom with the left middle finger, press the lid of the bowl with the right thumb, forefinger and middle finger, and naturally put right ring finger and little finger on the body of the teacup.

Warming the Teaware

1.Warming the teapot

When the teapot is half full, lower the kettle again and slowly reduce the water flow, then lightly place the kettle on the table. Drape a tea towel over the left arm, support the teapot with the tea-towel-covered left arm and rotate the teapot in an anticlockwise direction to let every part of the teapot fully contact with the freshly boiled water, and then pour the water out.

2.Warming the teacup

Hold the kettle with the right hand and pour water into the teacup in an anticlockwise direction. When the teacup is one-third full, stop pouring and place the kettle on the tea table. Hold the base of the teacup with the right thumb and forefinger, support the bottom with the left forefinger and rotate the teacup using the wrist, while not spilling water.

Pouring Water

When pouring water into a teapot or a teacup, the tea master should keep his body straight and his shoulders level, he should lift his arms while keeping his elbows low, and he should never tilt his head or squint his eyes. If the kettle is heavy, drape a tea towel over the left arm to support the bottom of the kettle. And when pouring water, never point the spout towards the guests. There are three methods for pouring water:

Three nods of the phoenix: This method means when pouring water into the teapot, lift and lower the arm three times like the phoenix nods three times to greet the guests. During the lifting and lowering maintain a smooth, steady and even water flow.

High Pouting: This method means to hold the kettle close to the body of the teapot, then slowly lift the arm, pouring water until the arm is parallel to the tea table. When the teapot is about 80% full, lower the arm again until the kettle is close to the body of the teapot.

Rotary Pouring: This method means to rotate the kettle in an anticlockwise direction while pouring water, until the teapot is full. This method can also be used when pouring water from the teapot to die teacup.

Tea Serving Etiquette

Tea serving etiquette varies depending on the occasion:

Greeting

A tea master meets and greets guests by sharing tea with them. He holds his teacup with his right thumb and forefinger and puts his left hand in front of the right forefinger, his left palm lightly touches the edge of the teacup and the back of his left hand faces the guests. His left thumb should stretch naturally parallel to the other four fingers and should never point to the sky or at the guests. The tea master then raises the teacup to his chest level, and keeping his arms horizontal, he drinks the tea and puts his teacup down slowly.

Blessing

In a formal occasion when a tea master expresses blessing or gratitude to his guests, he first puts his palms together and bows to the guests. Then he puts cups and saucers in front of the guests and serves them full cups of tea.

Salute and paying respect

In an occasion when a tea master serves tea to the elders to salute them, express gratitude or pay respect, he should hold the teacup with saucer with both hands and raise them to his eye level, then bow to the elders. When the elders accept the teacup, the tea master should stand humbly by their side or step back altogether. If the elders are seated, the tea master may either bow or kneel to serve them tea.