CHINA HERITAGE QUARTERLY China Heritage Project, The Australian National University ISSN 1833-8461
No. 29, March 2012


A Quintessential Invention | China Heritage Quarterly

A Quintessential Invention
Genesis of a Cultural Orthodoxy in East Asian Tea Appreciation

Loretta Kim 金由美, Hong Kong Baptist University
Lawrence Zhang 張樂翔, City University of Hong Kong

The JW Marriott Hotel of Hong Kong has recently been using an interesting image for their advertisement campaign in the Asian edition of The Economist, among other publications. A woman is holding a teapot as if she is pouring tea into the three cups laid out in front of her. The superficial message is quite simple. Her serene facial expression exudes the comfort that the hotel will provide. Her solitude in the scene illustrates the peace and quiet that guests should expect as a rare luxury in a bustling city like Hong Kong. The rich, dark brown wooden furniture projects the solid and dependable nature of the hotel. However, the focal point of the image, the woman and her tea set, are not as straightforward to understand. The ethnicity of the woman in question is unclear. Although she is wearing a single-color, Chinese style qipao (dress), her facial features suggest that she may be of mixed Asian and European heritage. The tea set itself is also interesting for its style. It is vaguely Chinese, but also has touches of western design infused in the teaware. The tray she is using to hold the cups is almost certainly Chinese, but interestingly enough, it is missing the important tray underneath that catches runoff water. Although she looks ready to pour, no water is coming out of the teapot. Moreover, one notices that the tea leaves are still sitting next to the tray, rather than steeping in the teapot. One may presume that she is rinsing the teapot with hot water before adding the tea leaves, which then begs the question of where she plans to dispose of the water. Surely, her intention is not to have the people drinking the water that she used to rinse the pot? While we are on the topic of water, where is it coming from? Clearly, the tap that dispenses the water is missing.

Among all these minutiae, though, are larger and more significant questions. What, exactly, is she doing? Is she trying to perform the 'traditional Chinese tea ceremony,' in which case her water, tea pot, and tea leaves should all be prepared in a particular manner, as indicated in the questions about the obvious mysteries in the still image? Clearly, what the advertiser is hoping to convey is a sort of East meets West image that is quite common in Hong Kong. The East, with implications of traditional (setting with wood), handcrafted (tea and ceramics), and slightly exotic (the lady’s identity) is contrasted with the image behind her, which is that of the modern, globalized Hong Kong harbour. Yet for all of her sincere charm, the woman brings into question what the tradition that she is charged to embody really means.

Fig.1 A gongfu cha setting

This paper seeks to explore the questions surrounding the image here, which is that of the tea setting and the modern Chinese tea practice as commonly understood. It will first define and examine what constitutes modern tea practice in China today, and then look at historical precedents to find where its influences are from. It will argue that rather than it being wholly rooted in historical Chinese precedents, the modern Chinese tea practice is an amalgamation of Chinese, Japanese, and Taiwanese influences that did not come together until the 1970s, mostly in artificial and new arrangements that were invented during this period. Moreover, this paper will propound the hypothesis that the transformation of what was originally a regional custom into a national tradition has occurred in great part to its reception outside of China and confirmation by popular assent rather than purposeful designation by government officials and other customary architects of national symbols.

The first question that precedes all others is what is the tea practice under investigation? A little booklet published by the Hong Kong Tea Arts Association in 1995 explains it in quite a bit of detail, although it is by no means the only one to do so.[1] The main distinguishing feature of this tea practice that makes it different from others consists of two aspects. The first is the use of small vessels for brewing. The second is a very high tea leaf to water ratio, and consequently, the need to re-infuse the leaves multiple times, resulting in a session of tea drinking that involves multiple steepings and tastings. The taste of the tea prepared this way is strong, and accentuates the flavour as well as fragrance of the tea itself by concentrating it in a small space.

This method of tea brewing originated in the Chaozhou 潮州 region of China, at the border of Guangdong and Fujian provinces. In an unfinished manuscript from 1957, Weng Huidong 翁輝東, a Chaozhou native who was also a local linguist, wrote a chapter in his planned Chaozhou Tea Classic (Chaozhou chajing 潮州茶經) in which he outlined the process of brewing tea in this style. In the preface to the chapter, he stated the reasons for starting this book explicitly:

What most impressed them [note: visitors from other places in the country] was the practice of gongfucha. They say that Chaozhounese customs are elegant, and their habits are elevated. Whether it is at a banquet, in a resting place, in shops or factories, or even along roadside or under a scaffolding for beans, whenever they find time in their busy days, or merely because of an urge for leisure, [Chaozhounese] are all willing to use clay stoves and sand kettles, and raise their cups and lift the pots, drinking long draws or small sips, and enjoy this pleasant life. [The visitors] also say, having visited the various tea producing regions of the country, such as Longjing, Wuyi, Qimen, and Liu’an, and having seen their customs, none compare to Chaozhounese in their elegance and [they] often remark on this 'lovable Chaozhou 可愛的潮州.'[2]

The preface indicates that the book would spread the idea of Chaozhou tea and expose those unfamiliar with the Chaozhou tea practice to learn more about it. Weng clearly identified the Chaozhou gongfucha practice as a distinctive, regional one, which non-native observers regarded as foreign and studied with curiosity. The book was never finished, but in the one chapter that was completed, he described the procedures necessary for the proper making of Chaozhou gongfucha and explained in detail how each step should be done. His meticulous exposition suggests that the book was intended for those who had no prior knowledge of tea practice, much less the Chaozhou variation.

A similar view can be found in a 1971 book published in Hong Kong titled The Art of Drinking Tea (Yincha de yishu 飲茶的藝術) written by Feng Shiye 馮世業. In the second section of the book that discusses various tea practices around the world, Feng described 'Han tea drinking customs (漢人飲茶習俗)' in detail, but identified it with three broad principles: no added sugar, drunk hot, and avoidance of fat (no milk, cream, or other protein substances). As well as listing these three principles, Feng composed a whole list of various regional practices, all of which he deemed to be different and distinctive. The represented regions include Fujian, Guangdong, Sichuan, Hunan, Shanghai/Hangzhou, and Beijing. None of them, as he judged, share much in the way of tea is drunk or brewed.[3]

When analyzed, the three principles he lists as Han drinking customs are not at all unique to the Han Chinese, and can hardly be used as a gauge for whether or not a tea practice originated from Han Chinese culture. After all, the Japanese tea tradition can be described with the same three principles, for they also drink their tea hot, with no added sugar or fats. Therefore Feng’s profile of the Han drinking custom is a very generic description of tea drinking, and certainly is difficult to justify as a 'national' tea drinking culture. If anything, Feng’s description reinforces the regional tea drinking culture that had existed in China up to this point, and in his own words, he noted that because of China’s vast geographic spread, there are myriad tea drinking customs that exist in the country.[4]

Feng's work, however, did inspire the use of the term 'tea art' (chayi) in a cultural sense. The title of his work was abbreviated from 'the art of drinking tea' into simply 'tea art,' which was then imported to Taiwan and applied more widely to the practice of tea on a more serious level, elevated to something more than merely imbibing a beverage. Previously, Taiwanese teahouses were establishments of ill-repute, with prostitution, loitering, and all sorts of other undesirable activities taking place in so-called 'teahouses.' During the 1970s, a new generation of tea practitioners sought to revive the culture of tea drinking in Taiwan by setting up new style teahouses called 'tea art houses' (chayiguan 茶藝館) which emphasized tea drinking and practice, and disallowed other types of activities on their premises. Through a series of efforts to redefine the type of establishment that they had founded, these pioneers of the practice of chayi gained widespread acceptance and a new genre of tea drinking institutions, serving both as a place to practice and also to exchange and learn about tea, was born.[5]

An important center of innovating 'tea art' has been the Lu Yu Tea Culture Institute (陸羽茶藝中心) managed by Cai Rongzhang 蔡榮章, who was a pioneer in the field and who opened the first ever tea art house called Zhongguo gongfu chaguan 中國功夫茶館. Under the umbrella of the Ten Ren Group 天仁集團, the Lu Yu Tea Culture Institute holds regular classes, has examinations for different grades of tea practice mastery, and propounds a very precise, scientific method of tea brewing that has been highly regulated and justified by an entire system of philosophical underpinning with Buddhist overtones. It is a hugely successful commercial and educational enterprise, and to this day, trains a large number of students and holds regular tea meetings that practices the Wu-wo tea ceremony無我茶會 invented by the center. The name of the ceremony is itself Buddhist in influence, and the ritual emphasizes the importance of forgetting oneself and focusing on the tea.

Among the smaller establishments in the reinvigoration of tea practice in Taiwan during the 1970s and to the present is the Zitenglu 紫藤廬, also known as Wisteria House, whose proprietor Zhou Yu 周渝 remains an important figure in the Taiwanese tea scene. It was one of the earliest tea art houses that appeared in Taiwan, and quickly gained an esteemed reputation among tea drinkers. It is housed in a colonial era house and the decor inside is spare, with one room decorated in a Japanese style with tatami as flooring. Therefore, while larger institutions such as the Lu Yu Tea Culture Institute promote Chinese chayi among the general population, those who were more interested in a more intimate atmosphere and personal experience in drinking tea could visit one of these tea art houses, such as Wisteria House, and enjoy themselves in a tranquil setting.

By the early 1980s, the movement had clearly gained momentum and new associations were appearing that organized the development of tea art. In the late 1970s, a group of tea art house owners formed the Chinese Tea Art Friendship Association 中華茶藝友聯會.[6] By 1982, the Republic of China Tea Art Association 中華民國茶藝協會was founded under the auspices of the government, and the second article of the bylaws of the association stated that,

This association shall reinvigorate Chinese tea art culture 中華茶藝文化, spreading Chinese techniques in tea appreciation 發揚中國品茗技藝, raising the living standard of citizens, encouraging international cultural exchanges, and enhancing the economic benefits of tea as its stated goals.[7]

Therefore, within a decade of their appearance, the tea art movement, mostly involving a small group of interested practitioners in Taipei, had evolved from a small local trend in tea drinking into a national association recognized and supported by the national government.

There are two major factors at play that aided the development of tea culture in Taiwan during the 1970s, which would then have tremendous influence on the rest of Greater China in the subsequent decades. The first is geopolitical considerations, such as the criticism and rejection of 'tradition' during the Cultural Revolution in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan’s self-perceived role as the guardian of Chinese culture in the face of massive destruction of traditional objects and customs there. Tea art practitioners in Taiwan were quite conscious of this claim, and listing the goal of reinvigorating Chinese tea art culture as the first priority of the newly formed tea art association was no accident.

Another factor at play that was shaping this change was economic development. By the 1970s Taiwan’s economy had recovered from the Second World War, and the export driven boom would arrive during this period, leading to Ezra Vogel calling Taiwan one of the 'four little dragons.'[8] The increased consumption power of the Taiwanese led not only to a better standard of living, but also more disposable income and time to devote to leisurely pursuits such as tea. At the same time, the tea industry, which had up to this point primarily been driven by the export market, began to reorient itself towards domestic consumption. New regulations and methods of marketing drove tea prices to record highs, which then encouraged innovation and competition among tea farmers.[9] These two developments, that of the renewed interest in the art of tea brewing and the reinvigoration of the Taiwanese tea industry, went hand in hand, and even now Taiwanese teas are seen as important and highly desired.

Under these circumstances, the form of tea brewing practices that emerged was one that closely resembled the procedures described in Weng’s description of Chaozhou tea practices as well as Feng’s description of Fujianese tea customs. This is no coincidence either, as the tea produced in Taiwan is in the same general family as teas produced in the Chaozhou region as well as Fujian province. They all belong to the class of wulong tea, which is a type of rolled and semi-fermented tea popular along the southeast coast of China. Their distinctive features include a high level of fragrance and strong durability to withstand multiple infusions. The Taiwanese population also drank tea in a similar style for decades, but the tea art house movement changed and codified the practice into a set of rituals that one may term it a ceremony.

The most obvious Taiwanese modification in the creation of the new tea practice, from a technical standpoint, is the introduction of an aroma cup (wenxiangbei 聞香杯), elongated in shape and intended to accentuate the smell of the tea. The tea is first poured into the aroma cup, and then transferred to a drink cup. The residual tea liquor will cling to the surface of the aroma cup and yield an intense fragrance. The aroma cup became a new item in the classic set of necessary teaware for serious practitioners in the 1980s, and remains in use in Taiwan although much less popular in the PRC.

More importantly, the elevation of tea drinking from merely enjoying a cup of tea to 'tea art' stimulated the creation of a new system of brewing and behavior. Recalling his description of Chaozhouese tea practice, Weng mentioned how the drinking of tea took place everywhere: in factories, along the road, at home, and in the field. In the new 'tea art' culture that sprung up in Taiwan, drinking tea became a place-specific action. Having a cup of tea in the 'tea art' style in a bustling electronic factory in early 1980s Taiwan was well neigh impossible. Instead, such activities were confined to individual homes or the tea art houses, which hosted and encouraged such activities.

The new tea drinking ritual also gained a performance aspect previously absent in earlier descriptions. Drinking tea became something that can be appreciated both orally and visually. In a manual for new tea drinkers published in 2002, Cai Rongzhang described what by then was an accepted norm for tea brewing which he called the 'small pot tea method' (xiaohuchafa 小壺茶法).[10] Cai explicated detailed instructions on how each step should be taken, even down to the method of holding the teapot and how high one should hold the pot when pouring.[11] The detailed approach, complete with pictures, allows readers to follow along and learn the proper behavior necessary for the performance of this new tea art.

Another striking feature of Cai’s work is that by 2002 when this manual was published, the nomenclature of this new custom, so recently invented, has already gone through a few changes. The use of the term chayi has, at least in this book, been complemented by the word chadao 茶道 (way of tea), which made it into the title of the book. Within the book itself, however, chayi is still used as the primary term to describe the practice of tea, with a distinction that chayi is not simply 'tea added to art.'[12] Rather, chayi is the embodiment of the art of the creation of the tea leaves itself, which is an art form. It also emphasizes the importance of only concentrating on the tea itself, such that the practitioner could only focus on the brewing of the tea and not on other trivial pursuits such as playing chess or listening to music. In other words, the pursuit of a good cup of tea is, in and of itself, an art form. Thus, chayi is not merely a leisurely recreational activity, but instead a serious artistic pursuit.[13]

The choice of the term chayi over chadao is also indicative of the self-conscious nature of the creation of chayi as a discipline. The early pioneers of chayi were very aware that the term chadao, or the Japanese equivalent chadō, is intrinsically linked with the Japanese tea ceremony. Thus using the term chadao to talk about this renewal of Chinese tea practice was deemed problematic, since it would confuse novice practitioners and members of the public by mixing terminology, as well as raising questions about the potential of copycat nature of the revival.[14]

This is not to say that the two terms chayi and chadō are entirely distinct. In fact, the connections between them are copious and may explain the desire by early Chinese pioneers of chayi to avoid the Japanese term in order to distinguish their invention from Japanese practices. For example, in many publications from Taiwan starting in the early 1980s, there is a steady fascination and description of Japanese tea culture and its various aspects, from the artistic and ritualistic to the philosophical. In all of the books that were analyzed for this project which were published in Taiwan, each have at least some coverage of the Japanese tea ceremony, either its form, aesthetics, or philosophical underpinnings. In particular, the Japanese sentiment of harmony (wa 和), respect (kei 敬), purity (sei 清), and tranquility (jaku 寂), which is the main aesthetic impulse of the modern Japanese tea ceremony, has been imitated and modified by both Cai and Fan, but in different forms. Cai advocates the use of beauty (mei 美), health (jian 健), cultivation (xing 性), and ethics (lun 倫).[15] Fan, on the other hand, favors the formulation harmony (he 和), thrift (jian 儉), silence (jing 靜), and cleanliness (jie 潔).[16] Although they do not necessarily follow the Japanese formulation set down by Sen no Rikyu 千利休, the 16th century tea master, the use of four simple words and the conveyance of concepts of silence, tranquility, and self-cultivation are all in some ways echoes of the Japanese tradition.

The form of gongfucha service that was created also echoes the Japanese tradition, although in this case from the lesser-known practice of senchadō 煎茶道, which focuses on leaf green tea brewed in water, rather than the grounded tea whisked as in the more famous tea ceremony. Senchadō grew out of the transmission of whole leaf tea brewing from China to Japan around the 17th century, and developed its own ceremony that centered on the use of smaller Chinese teapots from Yixing county, Jiangsu province, as well as other implements that are largely Chinese in origin.[17] The modern form of senchadō practice closely resembles that of Cai’s manual, with the chief difference being in the type of tea used, the accoutrements of the tea practitioner, and other minor details. Therefore, although on the one hand the chayi practice has its origins in the Chaozhounese gongfucha tradition, on the other hand it takes its aesthetic cue from the Japanese tradition, which has had generations of tea practitioners debating and refining such concerns. Despite protestation to the contrary, the linkage between the Japanese tradition and the newly created Chinese one is obvious.

In the midst of this change from merely drinking tea to the practice of chayi, the origins of the Chinese tea practice as a Chaozhou custom seem to have been lost. Nowhere in Cai’s introductory manual mentions that the tea custom he is describing is a derivation of Chaozhou gongfucha. In fact, the preferred name for this new practice continues to be Chinese tea art (Zhonghua chayi 中華茶藝). It is also interesting that the term used is the more politically neutral Zhonghua rather than the very charged Zhongguo. Zhonghua, of course, encompasses the diverse regions of Greater China 大中華地區, such as Hong Kong and Macau, as well as the overseas Chinese community, many of which have large populations of Chaozhou and Fujian origins.

Similar changes in tea practice were indeed proceeding outside of Taiwan as well, albeit at a slower pace and generally following the lead of Taiwanese tea customs. During the 1980s a few new style teahouses began to operate in Hong Kong, with an emphasis on the technique of brewing tea and the quality of the tea leaves in question. Due to its size, however, tea practitioners in Hong Kong never attained the same influence as those from Taiwan. This became especially apparent with the opening of connections between Mainland China and the rest of the world since the late-1980s, and the mass migration of businessmen to invest in China subsequently. The Ten Ren Group, for example, invested heavily in the Mainland market, and has become the most important player in the China tea market. With their success in China, they also brought with them the new tea culture that had grown in Taiwan during the 1980s and educated a new generation of tea drinkers in China of this new chayi.

The influence of Taiwanese developments in chayi and the transformation of gongfucha from a Chaozhou practice to a national, Chinese custom also took hold in the PRC. In a book published in 1994 by Shantou University on the custom of gongfucha, the authors of the book continue to propound the idea that gongfucha was a unique, local practice that was special to Chaozhou. There was still a strong sense that it was a local custom, much in the same vein as Weng’s description of the Chaozhou custom decades earlier. By 2004, in another book on gongfucha also published by Shantou University, the recognition of gongfucha’s uniqueness remains, but is now framed within the greater context of Chinese culture.[18] The author claims that Chinese gongfucha had existed as early as the Tang dynasty, but was merely called by the wrong name, such that gongfucha was 'lost' for over a thousand years.[19] Therefore, China’s chadao has its origins in Lu Yu’s The Classic of Tea (Chajing 茶經) and Chaozhou gongfucha is merely the last repository of such a long and storied tradition. It is, as the authors note, '…an extension of the chayi from The Classic of Tea. It is precisely the fruit of a process of over a thousand years of accumulation, dissemination, and development from the gongfucha art from The Classic of Tea.'[20]

The claim made here is clearly quite problematic, for the entire description of the history of tea in China in this book contains no reference to the role of Taiwan or Japan in the transmission or preservation of tea cultures, and instead points to a text written over a thousand years ago as the font of all tea knowledge in China. Such omission is quite common among newer publications on tea, and reflects a growing sense that Chinese chayi, or as it is increasingly called, chadao, has always been in existence in China for over a thousand years. Lu Yu, in this narrative, is the central figure around which all narratives begin, by having written the first treatise on tea in the Tang dynasty. Other books on the history of tea tend to follow this linear developmental model, with one dynasty’s tea practice seen as building on the previous and culminating in modern chayi.[21] The overall tenor of such studies is that the contemporary chayi practice is merely an extension of an older form of tea from earlier times, rather than a new form that was invented and reinvigorated in the latter half of the 20th century. Even Chinese works that discuss Chinese and Japanese transmission in tea culture tend to emphasize China as the source and Japan as the recipient and developer of tea knowledge, but rarely mention that the direction of transmission also occurred in reverse.[22]

The idea that the current Chinese tea practice is merely an extension of a historical tradition that traces its roots all the way back to Lu Yu bears all the characteristics of an 'invented tradition,' as expounded by Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger.[23] If we examine the text of The Classic of Tea we will see that the tea described in that text is anything but similar to what we is practiced now. The tea used was powdered and ground up, then boiled in water, with added fragrance such as spices and salt. The tea, as produced according to Lu Yu’s instructions, would be unrecognizable by most Chinese as tea today. It is perhaps the closest to the Inner Asian practice of boiling tea in a cauldron, with the exception of the use of milk or, in the Tibetan case, yak butter. It certainly would not fit in Feng’s principles of Chinese tea drinking, nor accommodate any of the philosophical underpinnings of Cai or Fan. To continually cite Lu Yu, and reference his work as a gospel for how to make a proper cup of tea, is anachronistic. Lu Yu would not recognize today's tea practice as what he would do, and they are fundamentally two different practices altogether, held together only because they take place in the geographic entity that we now call China.

The confusion over the origins and lineage of modern Chinese tea practice as embodied by gongfucha is further complicated when such concepts are transmitted outside of Asia. Starting from the 1980s an increasing number of books, magazine articles, and even websites have been devoted to the art of tea and the consumption of this beverage, with books such as James Norwood Pratt’s The Tea Lover’s Treasury and John Blofield’s The Chinese Art of Tea.[24] Such books transmitted knowledge about tea in Asia to the Western audience, coinciding with the revival of interest in tea in Asia. However, they tend to reify the historical narrative already evident in Chinese books on tea, and present the history of tea as a lineal progression from Lu Yu to the present time. While Pratt’s account is largely concerned with the European interaction with Asia, Blofield’s work attempts to explain the Chinese 'art of tea.' His section on the preparation of gongfucha (Kung-fu tea) acknowledges the geographic origins of the practice, noting that 'Kung-fu tea votaries mostly live in the southern part of [Fujian] province and in the northern area of neighbouring Kwangtung,' but he attributes the practice of gongfucha as a form of brewing 'scarcely altered for a thousand years or more' using implements that 'probably originated during the Sung period.'[25] Such claims are unsubstantiated by historical records and are wildly speculative.[26] His actual account of how the session should progress mirrors closely those found elsewhere in contemporary Chinese texts, but also has a ritualistic element that echoes the formality found in manuals of the Japanese tea ceremony rather than the more informal Chinese tea service.[27]

More recent publications on Chinese tea coming out in the West produce similar narrative arcs. The proliferation of blogs and websites devoted to tea, increasingly the main source of information for much of the tea consuming public, are especially unclear as to the origins of the gongfucha. Foreign visitors to China who walk into a teashops such as Ten Fu Tea 天福茗茶, a part of Ten Ren Group, would see a 'ceremony' performed by their salespersons, who are inevitably female, and would be told that this is the traditional way of Chinese tea making. Likewise, smaller teashops in China and elsewhere, when preparing Chinese tea, generally use some variation of gongfucha as the basis of their tea brewing method. Within only decades of promotion as a 'Chinese tradition,' gongfucha has overshadowed other forms of tea practice within Greater China and also secured pride of place in the international community of tea aficionados. Members of the latter forum especially believe that knowledge of tea must include correct awareness of gongfucha performance. Simply appreciating the nuances of tea flavor and comprehending the variables that influence tea quality are not enough to be a respected insider, particularly one who seeks acceptance into 'master' circles. Gongfucha has thereby become a language, not only a means of consuming tea but also transmitting what is considered a distinct national tradition.

Yet, as the very history of modern gongfucha explained concisely in this paper shows, its influence and variations are more diverse than its most dedicated adherents would prefer to admit. Not only does performances of gongfucha bear striking resemblance of Japanese senchadō, but so do Korean practices. In Korean tea drinking, tisanes of flowers and grains are much more common beverages, called 'tea' as a general reference to the infusion of plant and water, but Korean green tea is equally valued as an agricultural product and as a varietal that is different from Chinese and Japanese crops because of the particular features of the Korean environment. Moreover, proponents have argued that Korean tea practice is related to but increasingly distinctive from Chinese and Japanese styles, again citing historical texts as the basis of their claims.[28] However, the manifestation of these customs, as one can see in images of their components and functions, show that without obvious national symbols such as flags or dress, it may not be immediately clear what is particularly Korean, or in other words, not Chinese or not Japanese, about them.

Furthermore, as interaction between the three countries of East Asia increases, whether through political, commercial, or social exchanges, determining what is singularly belonging to one nation may have to be reconsidered. Again, looking beyond the regional sphere reveals much about these changes in progress, as this paper has shown with what is widely considered 'traditional' practices of tea drinking. Dado, a tea café in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was originally established by its two Korean proprietors to showcase Korean tea and teaware. Although it no longer offers the full tea service that it originally advertised as its defining feature, Dado still features the process of brewing tea on its website, which does not carry any national modifiers but will look familiar to people in Chaozhou as much as in Seoul or Kyoto.[29] Rather than studying various national tea traditions as separate and distinct entities, it is more fruitful to reveal the interconnectedness of the tea traditions through history, and appreciate the cross-fertilization that took place as knowledge of tea and teaware is transferred within one grand, East Asian tradition of tea drinking.


[1] Ye Huimin, Xianggang chaye xiaobaike (The Hong Kong concise encyclopedia of tea), 2nd ed., Hong Kong: Xianggang chayi zhongxin, 2001.

[2] Weng Huidong, 'Chaozhou chajing—gongfucha' (Chaozhou Tea Classic—gongfucha), in Huang Ting, Chaoshan wenhua yuanliu (Origins of Chaozhou and Shantou culture), Guangzhou: Guangdong Gaodeng Jiaoyu cChubanshe, 1997, pp.110-5.

[3] Feng Shiye, Yincha de yishu (The art of drinking tea), Hong Kong: Xin Shenghuo Chubanshe, 1971, pp.19-21.

[4] Feng, 20.

[5] Joseph Wicentowski, 'Narrating the Native: Mapping the Tea Art Houses of Taipei,'

[6] Wicentowski, 6.

[7] Zhonghua minguo chayi xiehui jinian zhuankan (The Republic of China Tea Arts Association commemorative special issue), vol.1, p.25.

[8] Vogel, The Four Little Dragons: The Spread of Industrialization in East Asia, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991).

[9] Zhang Hongyong, Taiwan chayi fazhanshi (The history of the development of tea arts in Taiwan), Taipei: Morning Star Publishing Inc, 2002, pp.88-9.

[10] Other types of brewing methods exist, but they largely conform to the important principles and differ only on small details.

[11] Cai Rongzhang, Chadao jiaoshi: zhongguo chaxue rumen jiutangke (The way of tea classroom: nine introductory lessons in Chinese study of tea), Taipei: Tianxia yuanjian chuban gufen youxiangongsi, 2002, pp.143-46.

[12] Cai, pp.214-5.

[13] Cai, pp.215.

[14] Fan Zengping, Taiwan chawenhua lun (Essays on Taiwanese tea culture), Taipei: Bishanyan Chubanshe, 1992, 171.

[15] Cai, pp.222-4.

[16] Fan, pp.44.

[17] Ogawa Gōraku, 'Nihon no senchadō to chugoku rekidai no cha' (Japan’s senchadō and tea in successive generations in China), in Tōyō no cha (Tea of the Orient), ed. Takahashi Tadahiko (Kyoto: Tankosha, 2000), 113-17; Patricia J. Graham, Tea of the Sages: the Art of Sencha (Honolulu: Hawaii University Press, 1998).

[18] Chen Jinghong, and Xu Shaona, eds. Chaozhou gongfucha hua (Discussions of Chaozhou gongfucha), (Shantou: Shantou daxue chubanshe, 1994).

[19] Chen Xiangbai, and Chen Zailin, Gongfucha yu Chaozhou zhuni hu (Gongfucha and vermillion clay pots of Chaozhou), Shantou: Shantou daxue chubanshe, 2004, p.13.

[20] Chen and Chen, p.14.

[21] Zhang Hongyong, Chayi (Tea arts), Taipei: Youshi wenhua shiye gongsi, 1987; Yao Guokun, Cha wenhua gailun (Brief theory on tea culture), Hangzhou: Zhejiang sheying chubanshe, 2004.

[22] Teng Jun, Zhongri chawenhua jiaoliushi (History of the exchange of tea culture between China and Japan), Beijing: Renmin chubanshe, 2004, Graham, chapter 1.

[23] They were the co-editors of The Invention of Tradition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

[24] James Norwood Pratt, The Tea Lover’s Treasury, San Francisco: 101 Productions, 1982; John Blofield, The Chinese Art of Tea, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1985.

[25] Blofield, pp.133-36.

[26] Although leaf tea consumption has been in existence even before Lu Yu's time, the first record, both written and physical, of leaf tea consumption resembling today’s practice date from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). During earlier periods tea, even loose leaf tea, was either boiled or grounded down for whisking. Liao Baoxiu, Songdai kechafa yu chaqi zhi yanjiu (Study of Song dynasty tea drinking methods and teaware), Taipei: Guoli gugong bowuyuan, 1999, 23-37.

[27] Blofield, 134-39; Senō Tanaka, The Tea Ceremony, Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1973.

[28] See, for example, Ch`oe Pŏm-sul, Hanguk ŭi chado (Korean teaways), Seoul: Poyŏngak, 1975; Brother Anthony of Taize and Kyeong-Hee Hong, The Korean Way of Tea: an Introductory Guide, Seoul: Seoul Selection, 2007.

[29] 'How to Prepare Tea,' Dado Tea, (accessed November 15, 2011)