《無我茶會Sans Self Tea Gathering 180條》
ISBN 978-957-9690-08-9,“无我茶会Sans Self Tea Gathering 180” ,First edition: 1999.9, Second edition: 2010.9.《无我茶会180条》,1999.9第一版，2010.9第二版.台北陆羽茶艺股份有限公司.2012.05.20修订版.-English Translator : Katherine Yip,英语翻译：叶德明.
Chapter 7 Taking your seat and Tea ware Appreciation
75. How could we ensure seating mats are neatly aligned?
Each number plate is placed in such a way to mark the centre point of the front edge of the seating mat; as such, align your ‘seating mat’ (not the cloth liner) accordingly with the number plate, and the seating arrangement will be neat and as planned when everybody is seated.
76. How should we handle the number plate?
For plate made of cardboard, put it into the carrying bag once the seating mat is laid; this way, the seating area will look tidy. If the number is indicated by way of a souvenir, place it in an appropriate position for display alongside the tea ware. Pack it together with the tea ware when the event is over.
The number lots obtained at the registration counter should also be kept in the bag to keep the place tidy.
77. Should the cups be placed right side up or upside down?
Out of hygiene consideration, tea cups will be placed upside down when they are being laid out on the tea tray, while random drawing is going on and seats are being taken. In this case, turn the cups right side up when brewing begins. Having said that, tea cups can be placed right side up if they look a lot more appealing this way, and the venue is free from sand, draught and other hygiene concerns.
78. If tea is to be served to onlookers, should the extra cups be displayed?
Generally, the organizer will distribute cups for onlooking guests to the participants when they sign in at the registration counter, if the decision was made beforehand. Participants will keep these extra cups in their carrying bags until the tea infusion for the onlookers is brewed and it is time for serving; there is no need to display these extra cups. There are three reasons for this arrangement: first, to avoid a cluttered brewing area and keep the place neat and visually appealing; second, for security reason, to avoid the cups being overturned or blown away by strong wind; third, to add an element of unexpectedness – onlookers would be pleasantly surprised as cups were hidden from sight and they have no clue that they will be served!
79. Should the snack be displayed if the tea gathering calls for ‘tea time snacks’?
If the tea gathering calls for ‘tea time snacks’, details including when it is to be served will be specified in the ‘Notification’. Bring along the snack accordingly. Do not take it out when tea ware is laid for hygiene reason. When the time comes, take it out and distribute.
80. For Sans Self Tea Gathering taking place in the evening, where should the light be placed?
Participants would have to bring along their own lighting devices for an evening tea gathering. The light should reach the tip of the spout or the inside of the tea bowl, besides contributing to an aesthetically appealing impression, and not getting in the way of water pouring, tea distributing and serving, etc.
Pay attention to safety if candles or oil lamps are used. Make sure the tea towel, tea cloth and seating mat, etc, will be out of the lamp’s way when there is a draught to prevent burning. Should gas stove be used, make sure there is no leakage when it is being transported.
81. What should we do if there is strong wind outdoors?
For an outdoor Sans Self Tea Gathering, the items prone to toppling over or being lifted in a gale will be the tea cloth, seating mat, cloth liner and tall, slender thermal flask. Under such circumstances, lay the thermal flask on its side on the windward end of the tea cloth. Use the carrying bag to hold the seating mat and cloth liner down. Other heavier personal items, pebbles and stones around can double up as weight.
82. What should we do if the venue is rain-soaked?
Bring along a cloth liner if it rained before you leave home for the tea gathering. If you are already on the way and there is no chance for you to get the cloth liner, be resourceful. If the tea gathering takes place at the countryside, gather some grass and leaves and lay them on the ground, provided this does not spoil the scenery; if brewing is to take place on concrete or stone-paved surface, just sweep away the water on small area, and avoid large puddles. One should be adaptive and prepared to solve problems.
83. The issue with insects for outdoor tea gatherings.
For outdoor event, insects are unavoidable gatecrashers. They will creep up your seating mat or make themselves at home on your tea tray. This issue was raised after the 5th International Sans Self Tea Gathering had taken place on a meadow at the Yunv Peak of the Wuyi Mountain. Some participants complained that insects had popped into their cups. Initially, the organizer responded by saying what seemed to be the obvious: we could spray the place with insecticide a few days before the event. There was a pause, then someone objected: What are insects compared to insecticide? Is insecticide any better than a few insects? Soon, the insects had garnered a lot of support – ‘If the mantis makes its way to my tea tray, I will bring it along to serve tea and let it leave slowly after I have returned to my seat’; ‘If a bug lands in my cup, I will avoid it when I drink, leave some tea at the bottom of the cup with the bug, and discard it.’
Towards the end, it seemed that no one objected to insects participating in the Sans Self Tea Gathering – instead, everyone was talking about the interesting experience they had with these ‘fellow participants’!
84. ‘Tea ware Appreciation and Networking’ session: When to begin, when to end and what are the alternatives?
This is the very first activity during a Sans Self Tea Gathering. When the tea ware is laid, participants could meet and greet fellow tea drinkers and appreciate their tea ware. This is also the time for making new acquaintances. Normally, there is no definitive time for the beginning of this session.
The ‘beginning of tea brewing’, however, is a key moment. This should be clearly understood by each participant. This also marks the end of the ‘tea ware appreciation and networking’ session. When the time comes, everyone will have to return to the respective seats and begin brewing.
The ‘tea ware appreciation and networking’ session may not matter as much if it is a tea gathering among old acquaintances and friends. As such, it is appropriate to have a few minutes when everyone settle down and sit in quietude before brewing begins. Upon confirming that all participants are present, and tea ware laid, the organizer may suggest that everyone be seated and wait in silence, until the time comes for brewing. At this point, open the thermal flask as a cue that it is time to brew.
The ‘tea ware appreciation and networking’ session is a part of the Sans Self Tea Gathering. Background music is not recommended, as it may distract participants from seriously appreciating the tea ware and getting to know each other; worst still, this may give the wrong signal that preparation is still under way. Should there be briefing arranged for onlookers, it important to tell them what the participants are doing, from the time number plates are placed.
If an opening ceremony is required, have it at the place next to the venue for the tea gathering. Let all participants sign in and lay the tea ware as usual. Direct them to the place where the opening ceremony is to take place. When the ceremony is over, go back to the venue for the tea gathering and begin with the ‘tea ware appreciation and networking’ session. This is better than incorporating the opening ceremony into the ‘tea ware appreciation and networking’ session as the integrity of the event flow will be preserved. Likewise, it is better than having the ceremony before the participants laying out the tea ware, which may spoil the atmosphere of the tea gathering.
85. Etiquette during ‘tea ware appreciation’
All participants are required to bring along their own tea ware, which makes Sans Self Tea Gathering a great occasion to showcase individual tea ware; this is especially true for international gatherings whereby participants from different countries get together. Furthermore, the choice of tea ware speaks volume of an individual, which helps facilitate understanding among fellow tea drinkers.
Avoid touching or picking up the tea ware during the appreciation session. Firstly, it is for hygiene reason; secondly, it will also avoid breakage by accident. The exception is when the owner is at his place, and show you the tea pot himself or indicate that you can take up the tea pot to have a closer look.
Walk about gently to avoid kicking up dust and spreading it around, and take care not to step on or kick over the tea ware inadvertently. Do not disturb participants who are busy laying out their tea ware to avoid delay. Try not to spend too long talking to one person, as he will need time to appreciate tea ware and mingle around. Keep track of your time, and make sure you have enough time to get back to your place before the ‘tea ware appreciation and networking’ session ends.
86. How to optimize the impact of networking?
The best time to build friendship is during the ‘tea ware appreciation’ session and the ‘post-event activities’. Arrange some ‘networking coordinators’ to assist participants reaching out to fellow tea drinkers. If there are members of a few associations present at a particular Sans Self Tea Gathering, the ‘networking coordinators’ must be familiar with the members of these associations.
87. How to distribute ‘Backgrounder’ to members of the public at the venue
Normally, a Sans Self Tea Gathering taking place at a public venue is intended to be promotional in nature – besides having presenters briefing the public about the procedure and spirit of Sans Self Tea Gathering, ‘backgrounders’ can be distributed. There are three ways to distribute these: a) set up a service counter at the registration area and put up a sign that backgrounder would be given out upon request. Attend to requests throughout the entire tea gathering. b) Arrange to helpers walking about at the venue and giving backgrounders out to interested onlookers. c) Distribute backgrounders to tea-brewing participants beforehand, and let the participants distribute the backgrounders to the onlookers while they are explaining to them afterwards.