Tea ceremony is the foundation of Cha Dao practices. The eight teachings of Taetea ceremony were created by Taetea based on Fu'er tea brewing skills that separate the tea brewing process into eight parts. Each part relates to a corresponding truth, or teaching, of Chinese Cha Dao: Cleansings Opening, Awakening, Measuring, Cultivating, Experiencing, Sharings and Finishing.
The eight teachings of Taetea ceremony are not only a tea brewing process or a performance for guests, but also a method to practice Chinese Cha Dao. It was developed by embodying the elements of 'purity, serenity, integrity, elegance, perseverance sincerity, benefit and harmony'.
In its overt form, it focuses on the manifest beauty of a tea master and the tea ceremony, from the grooming and bearings hand gestures, eye contacts and breathing of a tea master to the selection of teaware and their layout, the plant decoration on the tea table and the overall arrangement of the environment.
The spiritual element of the tea ceremony resembles the characters of Sila, Samadh aid Panna of Buddhism.
The Sila of Cha Dao: The set processes, methods and skills should be understood and followed rather than changed when practicing tea ceremony.
The Samadhi of Cha Dao: A tea master should be composed and not distracted by the outside world; he should concentrate and find inner peace and serenity through the tea ceremony.
The Panna of Cha Dao: A tea master should also follow the understandings and etiquette of Cha Dao. He should learn and contemplate the essence of Cha Dao though practice of the tea ceremony; see the world from a cup of tea, understand laws of the universe, find the truth and answers to the mysteries of life and Self.
Cleansing emphasizes not only having a 'ready to brew' body posture, but also adjusting the mind to a serene and peaceful state. To fully appreciate the beauty of tea and the tea ceremony, we must first clear our minds. Forget all the problems and worries of our day and take a moment to just be. Focus on the simple task.
This teaching reminds us of the interconnectedness between body and mind; as the tea master cleanses his hands he also cleans, or clears, his mind. Through this teaching, the tea master is physically and mentally stimulated and well prepared to start the tea brewing.
STEP 1. Show Respect
Lu Yu founded the tea ceremony in China during the Tang Dynasty, China is a nation where courtesy is revered; it is important for us to first show respect to Lu Yu.
- The tea master gracefully enters the stage, walk slowly and gracefully, keep) the pace at an even speed
- Hold both hands together, bow to Lu Yu to an angle of 45°.
- The tea master should avoid heavy sounds; he should step by landing on his heel first, and then bring down the rest of his foot
- The tea master should place both hands in front of his lower abdomen, then smoothly lift his arms from the side of his body and hold both hands together in front of his chest.
STEP 2. Take a Seat
The tea master bows to his guests to welcome them and then takes a seat.
- After showing respect to Lu Yu, he turns to the guests and bows at an angle of 45°.
- After bowing to the guests the tea master takes one to three steps to the right until he stands before his seat, then he sits down gracefully.
- The tea master should elegantly turn to the guests and stand with his body straight.
- When the tea master bows to the guests, his facial expression should be natural and serene.
- The tea master should bend his body from the waist and keep his spine straight.
- The tea master should step gracefully, avoiding any sound when sitting down. He should keep a serene smile on his face, look resolved and avoid frequent blinking. And he should sit on the seat and keep a straight upright posture.
STEP 3. Clean the Hands
The tea master takes a damp towel and cleans his hands to keep the tea pure.
- Gently take the white towel from the saucer and hold it in the left hand, then wipe the palm and back of the right hand.
- Pass the towel to the right hand and wipe the palm and back of the left hand.
- The tea master's eyes should follow the movements of his hands whilk keeping his upper body straight.
- The tea master should slightly tuck in his thumb and the other four fingers closed, avoiding pointing his thumb toward the guests. His arm and hand should be kept horizontal, parallel to the table
- When cleaning his hands, the tea master's movements should be gentle but definite rather than casually wiping or intently scrubbing.
STEP 4. Calm Your Mind
The tea master meditates for a few moments to calm his mind, so he can fully appreciate the tea ceremony.
- Keep the upper body straight, legs together, and the entire body relaxed.
- Overlap hands with palms turned towards the sky and the left hand on top of the right hand. Stretch the thumbs naturally and put the hands in front of the elixir field, the area where energy is stored and nourished in the body according to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), about three finger widths below the navel.
- Slightly tuck in the chin and hold the shoulders naturally horizontal, avoid tilting the head or bending the back.
- Keep a serene smile on the face, slowly close the eyes and meditate for 5 to 7 seconds.
- The sifting posture should be kept upright and steady throughout this step.
- The lie tea master should have a calm facial expression,opening and closing his eyes gently during the meditation.
Opening is not only about opening the tea mat and arranging the teaware on the tea table in the correct order, is also about taking time to contemplate the ritual: the tea master is about to perform as an example of harmony between man and nature.
The Chinese character for 'tea' (茶) has three levels; the top means 'grass'（草）,the middle means 'people'(人）and the bottom means 'tree' (未). It depicts man and nature in unity. This teaching provides the tea master time to present the tea and teaware to the guests, The tea master interacts with the guests, opens Ms heart and shows his sincerity while he contemplates the nature of tea and water and prepare for the tea brewing.
STEP 1. Open the Tea Mat
Arrange the tea mat on the table and open your heart to the guests.
- Take the tea mat in both hands, put it on the center of the tea table.
- Using both hands carefully unfold it from the middle to each side.
- The movement of unfolding the tea mat should be light and graceful.
- The time for folly unfolding the tea mat should be about 10 to 15 seconds.
STEP 2. Arrange the Utensils
Take the tea utensils form the tea tray in order, and place them in their separate positions on the tea mat.
- Place the purple clay teapot (with a pad supporting the teapot) in the middle of the tea mat, a little more than halfway down towards tea master.
- Place the water bowl with the teacups and cup saucers in the top right comer of the tea mat.
- Place one cup saucer directly above the purple clay teapot facing the guests and the other four around the teapot. The five cup saucers form a semi-circle and the distance between each cup saucer should be even. Place another cup saucer on the right side of the purple clay teapot and directly below the water bowl.
- Place five teacups relatively onto the five cup saucers around the teapot, the order of placing the teacups is the same as placing the cup saucers.
- Place the fairness cup on the left side of the purple day teapot, a greater distance from the teapot than the left-hand-side teacups.
- Place the strainer above, and a little to the left-hand-side of the fairness cup. Then place the tea canister above, and a little to the left side of the strainer. The fairness cup, strainer and tea canister forms a diagonal line approximately 45 degrees to the left and running away from the tea master.
- Place the teaspoon and tea scoop on the right side of the teapot,a greater distant from the teapot than the right-hand-side teacups.
- Place the tea holder on the left side of the fairness cup.
- Place the tea towel directly below the purple clay teapot.
- The arrangement of the utensils should follow the aesthetic standard as well as being ideal for the convenience of the performance.
- When arranging the utensils, the tea master should keep his upper body straight, the movements of his hands smooth, and his facial expressions natural and peaceful.
STEP 3. Boil the Water
Water for brewing tea should be natural and pure, best taken from a high mountain stream, a river or a well.
- Set fire to the stove, put a pottery pot over the heat and boil the water until the first signs of boiling.
- An electrical kettle can be used to replace the stove and the pottery pot.
The tea master should gracefully set the fire or switch on the kettle.
A wakening is about warming the utensils before brewing tea. By dousing the utensils with hot water, their temperature is raised; tins enhances the color, aroma and flavor of the tea.
Awakening also serves as a metaphor to wake the soul of the tea lovers, so we can experience the birth of the tea together, and be enlightened by the nature of the tea which can reflect our inner world so as to pursue the spirits of Cha Dao.
STEP 1. Warm the Teapot
See the world from a cup of tea, awaken the utensils and awaken your soul.
- Lift the lid from the purple clay teapot with your left thumb, forefinger and middle finger. Then move the lid around the edge of the teapot for 3/4 of a circle in an anticlockwise direction and place the lid on the cup saucer which is directly below the water bowl.
- Lift the kettle or pottery pot and pour water into the teapot for one complete circle in an anticlockwise direction. If the kettle or pottery pot is too heavy, put a towel over your left hand and support the bottom of the kettle or pottery pot when pouring water.
- Raise the spout to the level of your face and stop the water flow when the teapot is 1/2 or 2/3 full.
- Keep holding the kettle or pottery pot with the right hand, lift the lid from the cup saucer with the left hand and place the lid back onto the purple clay teapot. Gentle press the lid with the left forefinger and middle finger, then lift the kettle or pottery pot again and pour water onto the surface of the teapot in an anticlockwise direction until the entire surface is wet.
- The movement of lifting the lid from the bowl should be very light and graceful.
- The tea master should control the water flow; he should pour water from the spout smoothly and neatly.
- The movement of laying down the kettle or pottery pot should also be very light and graceful.
STEP 2. Warm the Cup
Fill each teacup with hot water, rinse and clean them. The nature of tea is pure and clean. By warming the utensils with water, we create the perfect environment for the tea to express its nature, its color, aroma and flavor.
- Hold the purple clay teapot with your right hand and fill each teacup with the water from the teapot. If there is still water left in the teapot, pour the water into the water bowl and drain the teapot.
- Take each teacup in turn in your right hand, move the teacup to about 3cm above the water bowl. Rinse the teacup by moving the water inside around the inner wall of the teacup in an anticlockwise direction for one complete circle. Then pour the water out into the water bowl.
- The tea master should control the water flow; he should pour water from the spout smoothly and neatly.
- The tea master should gently rinse the teacups.
- The tea master should avoid spilling or splashing when pouring the water into the water bowl.
Measuring the amount of tea is an important teaching. The flavor of a cup of tea depends on the temperature of the the chosen tea, the amount of tea used as well as the steeply time, Among all these factors we often say,'The amount of tea leaves is the key to the quality of the tea.'
We must choose appropriate amount of tea leaves, for if we choose too few tea leaves, the flavor will be plain, and if we choose too many tea leaves, the flavor will be too heavy, or intent. We must find the perfect balance between these factors, as in our daily lives, too much is harmful.
It is not only the measuring of tea leaves in the tea ceremony, but also measuring and balance in life is very important to a tea master. When a tea master practices Cha Dao, he needs to understand when to accept and when to reject, when to pursue and when to give up, when to maintain and when to abandon. It is believed in Cha Dao that the hand that gives gathers. For the best result we must make calm and reasonable choices. That's the wisdom we need to learn in Cha Dao.
STEP 1. Measure the Tea
Choose an appropriate amount of tea leaves to brew a good cup of tea. Enough is enough, stop when you should stop. Always have a contented and grateful spirit when choosing and measuring tea,
- Take the tea holder with your left hand and place it on the towel in front of yourself.
- Take the tea canister with your left hand and move it close to your body at chest level or close to the edge of the tea table. Hold die tea canister with your left hand and open the lid with your right hand, and then put the lid down on the tea mat
- Take two scoops of tea leaves from the tea canister and cast the tea leaves onto the tea holder.
- The tea master should choose an appropriate amount of tea leaves.
- Hand movements should be gentle and graceful.
STEP 2. Appreciate the Leaves
Examine the chosen leaves and determine whether they can make a good brew.
- Lift the tea holder slowly to chest level with both hands, the distance between chest and the tea holder should be about 10 to 15om. Slightly tilt the tea holder towards the guests and avoid any spillage of tea leaves from the tea holder.
- The tea master slightly leans his body forward to appreciate the tea, looking purposeful showing his affection for tea. Or the tea master can move the tea holder from the left to the right in an arc to show the tea to the guests. He should keep a smile on his face and make eye contact with each of his guests.
- The tea master should move the tea holder gracefully and smoothly.
- The tea master's eyes should follow the movement of the tea holder.
STEP 3. Put the Leaves
From the leaves to the brew tea gives us a pleasing flavor on our palate and calms our mind.
- Move the tea holder back to chest level and lower it directly above the teapot.
- Holding the teaspoon in your right hand, put the leaves in the teapot, this action should be completed in three spoons.
- After putting all the leaves in the teapot, lay down the teaspoon and then the tea holder in their original positions.
- When putting the leaves in the teapot, hand movements should be gentle and smooth.
- The tea master should put an appropriate amount of leaves and avoid any leaf spillage outside.
We cultivate by bringing the tea leaves and hot water into contact with each other for the first time. This teaching is the most important in the entire ceremony.
The tea master needs to understaid the nature the tea and the brewing time to achieve the best aroma and flavor. It is not only about the master cultivating and brewing tea but also about the tea master cultivating his mind, taking his time to appreciate the nature of tea, learning to cultivate a good brew, and making efforts to understand spirit of Cha Dao and the spirit of life.
STEP 1. Nourish the Leaves
Fill the teapot with freshly boiled water to nourish the tea leaves.
- Hold the kettle or pottery pot in your right hand, raise the spout and fill the teapot with water. Then put the kettle or pottery pot back in its original position.
- Avoid pouring water directly on the tea leaves.
- The water should flow smoothly and evenly from the spout.
- The tea master should put down the kettle or the pottery pot carefully.
STEP 2. Pour Out the Water
The first brew is to awaken the tea leaves and should not be drunk.
- Place the strainer on the fairness cup with left hand.
- Hold the purple clay teapot in right hand and pour out the water into the fairness cup.
- Place the teapot on the tea towel to let the towel absorb any pillage on the bottom of the teapot, then place the teapot back on tea pad.
- Place the strainer back to its original position.
- All of the water in the teapot should be poured out.
- The teapot should be placed back on the tea pad.
STEP 3. Fill the Teapot
Three up and down movements of the water flow resemble a phoenix nodding three times to greet the guests.
- Lift the lid of the teapot and place it on the cup saucer which is directly below the water bowl.
- Hold the kettle or the pottery pot in your right hand, and then j lift your arm high so the water can fall smoothly into the teapot. Raise and lower your arm three times so that the water flow goes up and down three times. Stop filling the teapot when it is full.
- The water should flow smoothly and evenly from the spout.
- The tea master should balance the water volume, speed and time when filling the covered bowl with water.
STEP 4. Remove the Foam
Wet the surface of the teapot with the water from the fairness cup. The temperature of the teapot is raised so as to give a full play to the aroma and flavor of the tea.
- Gently place the lid back on the teapot.
- Hold the fairness cup with your left hand and move it above the teapot. Pour out the brew from the fairness cup on the teapot and remove any foam on the surface of the teapot. Place the fairness cup back to its original position.
- The tea master should avoid any spillage when putting the lid on the teapot.
- The tea master should keep the mat clean during this step.
- The tea master should gently put down the fairness cup.
STEP 5. Fill the Fairness Cup
Pour the brew from the purple clay teapot into the fairness cup.
- Put the strainer on the fairness cup with your left hand.
- Move the purple clay teapot to the tea towel, wipe the water on the bottom of the teapot and lift the teapot with your right hand
- Pour the brew into the fairness cup. The master can pour the brew either by concentrating on one spot or by moving around the fairness cup for one complete circle in an anticlockwise direction and then concentrating on one spot. The tea master should avoid circling the brew around the fairness cup continuously.
- Use the strainer properly.
- The tea master should maintain smooth and graceful hand movements.
The tea master experiences the tea before his guests. The steps are quite simple but they embody the basic spirit of Cha Dao: 'do unto others as you would have them do to you, and our actions should not only benefit ourselves but should also benefit others. So the tea master tastes the tea first to assess the brew in order to treat his guests as he would like to be treated.
STEP 1. Taste the Fresh Brew
The tea master sips the tea first because a cup of tea can have as much variety as our own lives; it can be too hot or cold, too bitter or too sweet.
- Hold the teacup directly above the teapot with both hands and then place it on the tea towel. Pour the fresh brew from the fairness cup to the teacup. Then the tea master raises the teacup to his mouth and sips the tea.
- The tea master focuses on experiencing the flavor of the tea.
- The hand gesture when holding the teacup should be elegant and graceful.
- The tea master's facial expressions should subtly covey his feeling about the tea.
STEP 2. Present the Tea
The tea master presents the tea and conveys his feeling about the flavor to the guests.
- Give the guests a smile and nod head to indicate that the flavor of tea is pure and mellow.
- When finished sipping the tea put the teacup down on the tea towel.
The smile and nod should be subtle.
Sharing is about the tea master serving, sharing and appreciating the tea with his guests. This teaching emphasizes the tea master's gentle, polite and modest attitude to his guests, as well as enjoying each other's company over tea. This teaching shows that the most important belief of Cha Dao is to love, share and be grateful. It teaches that sharing is the source of happiness; it is more rewarding to give than to receive.
STEP 1. Divide the Tea
Pour tea into all the teacups.
- Pour equal amounts of tea from the fairness cup into all the teacups.
- If the master uses his left hand when dividing the tea then the order should be from right to left. If the tea master uses hand to divide the tea then the order should be from left to right . The tea master should fill his own teacup last.
- The tea master should pour tea into the teacups in order.
- The amount of tea in each teacup should be equal.
- The hand movements should be smooth.
STEP 2. Serve the Tea
The tea master lifts the teacup high and bows to the guests.
- Hold the teacup with both hands and lift your arms and hands high to eyebrow level, and then bow to the guests.
- Slowly lean backwards, until your body is straight again, and put the teacup down on the tea towel.
- When bowing, the body and the tea table should form an angle of 60°.
- Facial expressions should be natural and sincere.
STEP 3. Share the Tea
The tea master invites the guests to drink and appreciate the nurturing brew together. the tea master and the guests sit and relax and savor the taste and aroma of the tea as well as the ambience of the tea ceremony.
- Move your right hand from the left to the right in an arc, or open your arms to give a sign to invite the guests to appreciate the tea.
- Keep a smile on your face and exchange eye contact with each guest from left to the right.
- The invitation gesture should be graceful.
- Facial expressions should be natural and sincere.
This is the last teaching of Taetea ceremony. The tea master finishes the ceremony placing all the utensils in their original position and putting away the tea mat It also represents the state of mind of the tea master-letting go and enjoying the now.
The repose of the tea ceremony must pass; we must also appreciate go. Only when we learn to live in the moment and realize that all life is change and flux can we be at peace. This time too must end, but another time we will start afresh.
This teaching shows the wisdom in Cha Dao which tells us life is but a brief phase, we should learn when to pursue and when to let go. And most notably that a contented mind is the greatest blessing a man can enjoy.
STEP 1. Empty the Teacup
Empty the teacups and say farewell to the guests.
- Smile to the guests for 2 seconds and then empty the teacups.
- Smile to the guests again for 1 second ami lay the teacup down directly above the covered bowl.
- Emptying the teacup should be graceful.
- The tea master should look straight ahead, keep a smile on his faces and exchange eye contact with his guests.
STEP 2. Place the Utensil
Place die utensils and the tea mat in their original position.
- The utensils on the tea mat should be placed back on the tea tray in reverse order to the arrangement described in the second teaching.
- Place the tea towel in the top left comer of the tea tray.
- Place the tea holder, tea scoop and teaspoon in the bottom left comer of the tea tray.
- Place the tea canister, strainer and fairness cup in order on the tea tray.
- Stack the teacups using both hands, working from each side to the middle and then place them in the water bowl.
- Place the cup saucer below the water bowl onto the cup saucer above the teapot, and then stack the cup saucers using both hands, working from each side to the middle and then place them on the water bowl
- Using both hands place the water bowl on the tea tray.
- Using both hands place the teapot on the tea tray.
- Using both hands fold the tea mat from each side to the middle and place it beside the tea tray.
- Placing should be gentle and smooth.
- The tea master should follow the order when placing.
STEP 3. Thank the Guests
It is time for the tea master to part from the guests, we hope all tea lovers have learned the concept and spirit of Cha Dao and continue to practice Cha Dao by themselves.
Stand up and move backward for half a step, bow and thank the guests.
- The body and the tea table should form an angle of 45°.
- Facial expressions should be elegant and sincere.