China 101: Gong Fu Cha (Tea Ceremony)

“The art of tea is a spiritual force for us to share.” – Alexandra Stoddard

People may think that the British get unruly if they miss their cuppa in the afternoon, but the idiom is “for all the tea in China” for a reason: the tea ceremony is an institution here. It has been for over 400 years. People organize society around it. It is a time of day when families get together and share what’s on their mind.

As you might know, there are few things I love more than tea. And I’m pleased to say, that in China, they do tea drinking right. They appreciate it, they revel in all the flavors, and most importantly they use it as an opportunity to connect. Tea drinking is a communal process. The tea ceremony is a gathering where all of the stratifications of society fall away, and–for a brief moment–all are equal. Everyone has tea, billionaires and beggars alike. People hash out business deals, wedding plans, lunch menus, and so much more over this miraculous little leaf.

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