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Learn Chinese tea ceremony history and etiquette

Originating in 2737 BC, the tea ceremony is a testament to the impact the drink holds on Chinese culture. With its multitude of health benefits, tea and the act of preparing and serving it is also a means of socialization. These practices differ greatly from other countries, such as Britain and Japan.

“China has the earliest records of tea consumption with records dating back to the 10th-century BC,” said Xinren Yu, program coordinator at the UT Confucius Institute. “Tea was thriving in the Song Dynasty and popular among literati and poets. In the Tang Dynasty, 618-907 AD, one of China’s golden ages, tea drinking became an art.”

It is this deep cultural connection to the beverage that inspired the Chinese tea ceremony class series. The six-class series aims to educate UT community members on the finer points of appreciating and preparing tea.

“We hope that students will not only enjoy the taste of tea, but also learn Chinese culture and tea culture in the class,” Yu said. “Students who are interested in Chinese culture and Chinese tea ceremony will learn about the different types of Chinese tea, utensils for making and drinking tea, stories about tea from ancient times to the Tang Dynasty, as well as how people drink tea nowadays in China.”

Special occasions where one might be served tea include family gatherings and weddings. Serving the beverage to another person is a sign of respect, gratitude and apology. This means that most times, younger generations are the ones serving tea to their elders.

The expansive tea culture in China means that every home has the materials necessary to brew a cup of tea. Hospitality to guests always includes serving tea and sitting down for conversation.

The price to attend the session is $20, with the classes meeting Wednesdays, March 15 to April 19, from 2 to 3 p.m. in Snyder Memorial Building Room 1100.

In addition to the series, free walk-in classes will be available Fridays, Feb. 17 and 24, and March 3 and 10, also from 2 to 3 p.m. in Snyder Memorial Building Room 1100. These classes will serve as an introduction to the Chinese tea ceremony, with different types of tea being briefly presented, as well as a demonstration of one type of tea ceremony.

Those interested in learning more about the Chinese tea ceremony may sign up for the class series with Tea Master Xiangling Gong at xiangling.gong@utoledo.edu.