Category Archives: 18.A Matter of Effort: Tea Brewers putting in as many hours of practice as Pianists -Rong-tsang Tsai

A Matter of Effort: Tea Brewers putting in as many hours of practice as Pianists -Rong-tsang Tsai

A Matter of Effort: Tea Brewers putting in as many hours of practice as Pianists -Rong-tsang Tsai

我们在泡茶上所下的功夫有没有输给学琴的人  A Matter of Effort: Tea Brewers putting in as many hours of practice as Pianists 

蔡荣章Rong-tsang Tsai

(2004.06《茶艺》月刊社论The Editorial of “Tea Culture Monthly”)

We aspire to having ‘the Way of Tea’1. incorporated into our school  in the same way as fine arts, music and physical exercise. Our idea is, there should not be any decision-making involved based on the kind of job opportunities this field of study promises. Rather, it should be an integral part of life’s education. What follows will be the natural fulfilment of its function in cultivating one’s personality and enhancing the aesthetics of life. At that juncture, we would ask for one thing: practise hard.

During one of the review meetings of the Tea Brewers Examination 2., a tea drinker raised this question: while a person has to put in hours of practice each day over an extended period of time to be recognized as a pianist, tea brewers are seen exchanging pleasantries or trading jokes when they are brewing tea in a leisurely manner – is this the Way to become an expert? This put me in deep thought. My reflection is, it is not unusual to have tea drinkers practising tea brewing up to 8 hours, in some cases 10 hours, a day for a couple of months before the examination takes place. It is unknown, though, if they practise as hard when the examination is over. It is possible that the concept of ‘practising hard’ is not as strong among tea brewers as people studying music and painting, for the simple reason that the education pertaining to the Way of Tea is not as widespread and in-depth as that of music and painting.

As everyone pursuing music and art can testify, it takes tremendous hard work on one’s musical (singing included) and painting abilities to bring out what’s there in the realm of art. By the same token, tea gurus 3. will have to understand, and be convinced, that brewing is the basis on which the Way of Tea is presented and realized. Tea brewing as a skill has to be practised daily to ensure that one has full control of the tea infusion 4.

Tea gurus in general may not have gone deep enough when it comes to the Way of Tea. They may not have realized that it is more than exquisite tea ware and beautiful attire, alongside flower arrangement 5. and incense burning 6.; it has a lot more to do with the tea gurus’ own tea brewing prowess, namely their mastering of the mood, thinking and aesthetics. Such mastery will have to be built upon one’s technique, knowledge and appreciation of tea and tea brewing – which could only be attained by practising hard.

Musicians and painters express art through works of music and paintings, which are then shared with, and acquired by, the public in concerts and exhibitions. Tea gurus are entitled to such impact and value – brew well to bring out the essence of tea, and invite people to pay for this enjoyment.

We often use music or painting to illustrate the idea and value of the Way of Tea. Today, we have taken a step further to demonstrate how essential techniques, just as in the case of music and painting, matter. Tea brewing is pivotal to the Way of Tea. Meanwhile, there is a ‘price tag’ attached to the Way of Tea, besides that which is attached to the tealeaves. The Way of Tea does have its worldly worth, and we are hopeful that its value is on the upswing.

以下为文內之编码Coding in the text:

1.‘the Way of Tea’ 「茶道」

2.Tea Brewers Examination泡茶师考试

3.tea gurus 茶人

4.tea infusion茶汤

5.flower arrangement插花

6.incense burning焚香

Introduction: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).