Forgotten art: Chinese ceremony in Korea
The technology of tea brewing Koreans borrowed in Celestial Empire; however, the recognition of ritual of the tea-drinking is close to Japanese school Zen. The concentration of attention on the play of taste intonations and aroma is studied as the way to immerse into the meditation, nevertheless, from the point of view of Korean man enlightening bound in the cup of tea is not self-worth but, on the opposite, it is susceptible to practical considerations. The old treatises make emphasis that the main task of tea ceremony is in the liberation of the governor’s mind from the influence of emotions and vain thoughts before making important political decision. Despite the fact that culture of tea drinking is the Country of morning freshness is inseparable from the noble ceremonial, as the tea etiquette is slightly milder than Chinese and Japanese and actions of master and guests are free from the rough schedule and demonstration of effects.
The first information about the noble tea rituals refer to 611 when in the Day of Remembrance the scones of the compressed tea had been brought in the gift of the spirit of emperor Suro. Later the magnate called Kim De Ren upon the desire of empress Sondok took from China seeds of elite sorts of tea.
The classical set of rules daire was formed in the early years of dynasty Choson ruling and was embedded in the treatise ‘Five national rituals’. For tea drinking it was a separated room-tabang. In the center of room there was a low table where the participants of the ceremony sat at the floor mats. The tea master sat east-facing while the guests were west-facing. The place directed towards the southern side was intended for the emperor and if the governor was absent, the mat was free. Tabang had to be ready for the reception of visitors at any minutes that is why the dinnerware upon the finish of tea drinking should not be taken out from the table but also covered with the dark cloth.
Having greeted the visitors, the master put on fire the pot with the well-water and pleased the guests with the exchange of courtesies. When the water boiled, the tea leaves were rinsed with the fresh boiling water and put into the earthenware basin, after that the kettle and cups were heated while the remaining of water was poured into the special cup for the cooling up to the optimal temperature. For instance, the leaves and kidneys collected in April are brewed with the temperature of 60-65 °C while the tea of the late harvest is with the temperature of 70–75 °C. In the summer when one needs to cool down water the flat cups-catade are used while in the winter for the reservation of heat the high vessels of helical form.
The ritual says to pour tea in the small teabowl or cups with the tops that take into account directly three drops. Before tasting tea one needed to pay tribute to the color and smell of beverage keeping the teabowl with the right hand and supporting the bottom with the left one. According to the practice Te-Do (Way of Tea), the drop of tea extract embodies all the taste perceptions acceptable for the person in a similar way like the moment of enlightenment includes the eternity of the University. For the acquiring the inner harmony one needs to taste all the symphony of bouquet in the strict sequence of accords from the sour, bitter and acrid till the salty, pungent and sweet. In the meantime, one may taste colorfully decorated sweets as the delicacies are selected with the consideration of the tasty features of the sort.
Buddhists believe that with the drinking of tea there is a rise of spiritual energy from the lowest chakras to the highest ones that is why after the first swallow the cup should be kept near the solar plexus, after the second one at the level of the middle of the body, after the third near the chest allowing to the curing energy of tea come in a resonance with the vibrations of subtle bodies and clarify the consciousness from illusions.
The ordinary people were far away from the philosophical wisdoms and enjoyed tea by intuition like Buddha told. The climate of Korea is too strict for the capricious plant that is why planters awarded themselves for the unstable harvests with the inordinate cost of tea leaves. Classical green tea (nok-cha) was at the table of ordinary person only at the biggest holidays while in the weekdays the peasants brewed tea from everything that turned up by chance. There were fruits, flowers, roots, orange skin, peanut needle and even dried mushrooms. Even now in Korean cafes tea is intended to be the grass brew like the beverage from leaf of mulberry (bongnip-cha), the petals of wild crown daisy in honey (gukva-cha) or fried grains of barley (bori-cha). By the way, Korean tea can contain a small percent of alcohol as in the composition of brew there was a barmy fresh of fruits and berries.
The fatal coincidence of the terms of collection of tea leaf and crops played an evil joke with Korean planters. The farmers gave preference to more expensive culture, and the country had to appear at the border of nutrition disaster. In XVI century the government was forced to forbid the planting of tea at the area of Korean semi-island. Should we say that the original tea culture hustled away suddenly decayed?
The revival of the tea ceremony art in the modern Korea is tightly connected with the liberation movement. The greatest tea master of XX century He Dang who established Korean association te-do in the youth got in touch with the anarchists and participated in the attempt upon the successor to the crown. By the way, the true revolution was made by He Dang at the scope of agricultural technologies inventing the new method of growing of the green tea Paniaro that saved the Country of morning freshness from the lack of tea material.
Nowadays the affair of He Dang is continued by the Institute of development of the Tea Way Paniaro. The new generation of tea master has to tackle the big work, particularly, to lead the sophisticated culture of tea drinking from the cozy hipster teahouses in the big world not losing the drops of high-tony taste.
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