Category Archives: 20.Brewing technique is far from being skin-deep-Rong-tsang Tsai

Brewing technique is far from being skin-deep-Rong-tsang Tsai

Brewing technique is far from being skin-deep-Rong-tsang Tsai

学会削皮才能吃到肉Brewing technique is far from being skin-deep

蔡荣章Rong-tsang Tsai

 2001.06《茶艺》月刊社论The Editorial of “Tea Culture Monthly”

Tea gurus learn to brew tea in much the same way as musicians play piano or painters paint – they learn to master the very medium by which the Way of Tea, Music or Paintings is to be expressed. There is no way to get to the heart of these artistic pursuits if the people involved fail to acquire the basics. Furthermore, the artistic frame of mind is attached to the end results of the very act of tea brewing, piano playing or picture painting. A crude work of art will only create an artistic frame of mind that is equally unrefined.

 The Tea Brewers Assessment Examination 1, initiated in Taiwan, has since covered both sides of the Straits. For three decades as of May 2005, the examination has seen 345 tea brewers awarded with the qualification. Over time, these tea brewers, who began with the simple aim of being certified as a professional, have forged ahead to explore the vast world of tea culture. As seen in the recent monthly gatherings, they chant tea poems, study flower arrangement for tea presentation setting 2, delve into the aesthetics of tea advocated by Lu Yu, try and trace the origin of ‘Zen in Tea, Tea in Zen’3…. These are certainly not in the syllabus of the Tea Brewers Assessment Examination; neither are these follow-up tasks required. Such initiatives can only come from the tea brewers themselves – with the ability to brew a good pot, they have cultivated a habit of brewing and enjoying tea, and participating in activities related to the tea culture. This has further developed into a special feeling they have towards the beverage, which propels them to pursue tea on different fronts and at different levels; in most cases, they are rewarded with enlightened ideas. Without such innate bonding between the person and tea, any research assignment on tea culture given by the instructors at school will be mundane as in mere categorization of information; or detached as there is a lack of heartfelt enthusiasm.

Some people have criticized that the Tea Brewers Assessment Examination goes round and around at the level of tea brewing technique, which they describe as superficial. What they have failed to realize is that if one can’t play the piano (or for that matter, any kind of musical instrument) well, what is there to shape the musical frame of mind? If one can’t even paint well and master their lines and colours, what is there to express the artistic frame of mind? Some have gone to the extent of saying ‘the only thing matter is in the thinking and frame of mind when it comes to the Way of Tea’; or, ‘there is nothing else but that which showcase the charisma of a musician and a painter’. If this is the case, it is nothing short of crude and ludicrous.

To us, brewing a good pot4 is a physical training for tea gurus, not unlike the daily running athletes have to go through. Should this be considered skin-deep, my advice is, go get an orange – no one can get to the juicy pulp before peeling the skin!


以下为文內之编码Coding in the text:

1.Tea Brewers Assessment Examination泡茶师检定考试

2.flower arrangement for tea presentation setting茶席的插花

3.‘Zen in Tea, Tea in Zen’「茶禅一味」

4.brewing a good pot泡好茶


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).