Category Archives: 11. On the Style of Tea Presentation Setting-Rong-tsang Tsai

茶席风格的表现 On the Style of Tea Presentation Setting-蔡荣章-Rong-tsang Tsai

On the Style of Tea Presentation Setting-Rong-tsang Tsai

茶席1风格的表现 On the Style of Tea Presentation Setting 1

蔡荣章-Rong-tsang Tsai

(2001.01《茶艺》月刊社论Published in “Tea Art”monthly magazine)

Is Chinese costume and Chinese music indispensable in a tea brewing demonstration? Is Chinese interior décor the norm for dressing up tea houses? These are some of the most frequently asked questions during our lectures on the Way of Tea. If modern tea culture is what we are promoting, then there is no standardization pertaining to the modern Chinese style. It is, instead, our wish to introduce the Way of Tea to the world. For this matter, geographic and ethnic flavours are not prerequisites. As such, we accept a modern approach to promoting the Way of Tea.

A fellow tea drinker 2 once raised the issue about tea presentation setting when we were planning a tea art exhibition: Are we to follow traditional Chinese style? Or do we have the freedom to use a modern way of presenting? What he meant by ‘traditional Chinese style’ would probably include typical Chinese interior décor and furniture, together with flower arrangement 3, burning of incense 4 and hanging scrolls 5, among others. Our answer to this is, it is not necessary. There is nothing to stop us from using a modern, even surreal, approach. The combination of the four arts of living7– namely flower arrangement, painting hanging, incense burning and tea brewing6 – are not something down in the rule book. Chinese costume, be it for the tea servers or team members of the organizer, is not compulsory. The most important point is, the tea presentation setting must have a self-fulfilled style, and attain a high level of artistic accomplishment. Of course, one has to fully understand the characteristics of the tea leaves to be presented. Tea is the protagonist in this and it will not be right if we just show off our skill in dressing up the space without paying attention to the tea. For that matter, costume and demeanor will have to be in harmony with the presentation.

There is no fixed rule about pairing –Chinese décor does not necessary call for Chinese paintings and calligraphy, or Chinese-style flower arrangement. The aim is to successfully create the style and reach the artistic level desired. Mixing and matching of styles that transcends temporal boundaries and geographic divides is acceptable, so long as it is done is an appropriate manner. However, from the artistic, cultural and historical points of view, we would like more than a combination of existing (including old and new) objects and style, and encourage brand new design and creation. Although the setting is supposed to be a unique combination, which in itself is a form of creation, it does not ‘add to our historical and cultural values’ the way a new design does.

By the same token, there is no restriction as to the method of brewing. As in a drama production, the perfect match of the stage setting, cast and script is the formula to success. Brewing a good pot 8 is the basic principle – we cannot simply put ambience on top of everything else, or leave everything to whims and fancies. As far as the space is concerned, the design must have a theme to hold everything together. What tea aficionados 9 are after is something beautiful and artistically-appreciated.

以下为文內之编码Coding in the text:

茶席1  Tea Presentation Setting 1

茶友2 tea drinker 2

插花3 flower arrangement 3

焚香4 burning of incense 4

挂画5 hanging scrolls 5

点茶6 tea brewing6

四艺7 four arts of living7

「把茶泡好」8 Brewing a good pot 8

茶者9 tea aficionados 9


The aesthetics, character and the state of mind created are not to be undermined in the understanding and enjoyment of tea; and yet, they are the hardest to express.  Writings on the thoughts pertaining to tea, regardless of languages used, remain scarce.   We have attempted to express them in Chinese, with accompanying English translation(Translator:Katherine Yip.2010.01), to elaborate our thoughts as they are. What we want is to share the knowledge of tea alongside tea drinking.  This is, in our opinion, an important contemporary task in promoting the tea culture (Coding in the text is for cross-referencing of the academic terms of tea).