One Cup of Tea Miles of Fragrance

[Source]    Confucius Institute at the University of Yaounde Ⅱ [Time]    2011-01-17 11:24:14 

On the morning of December 6th, local time, Yaounde, Capital of Cameroon, a Xinhua News Agency Expo. Picture Exhibition was held in the activities hall of the Municipal Government of Cameroon. The exhibition was a showcase of a variety of colorful pictures with more than 100 guests in attendance. Different live shows were presented one after another. However, the attention of each guest was cast towards a Chinese girl wearing Qipao.

Giving everyone a Chinese tea art demonstration

About 20 minutes after the commencement of the event, Chinese Ambassador to Cameroon and the Cameroon Minister of Economics, along with other guests, had the chance to appreciate a tea arts show as presented by Peng Luying, volunteer teacher at the Confucius Institute. Woven within a piece of elegant classical Chinese music, sound of the tea pouring on to the tea plate was distinguished and graceful regardless of its quietness. The Chinese girl wearing a Qipao skillfully positioned the tea utensils step by step in a freshly detached style. The tea ceremony imparted those present with a sense of tranquility and an enjoyment of China’s long history. The ceremony was an embodiment of numerous Chinese idioms, including ‘High Mountains and Flowing Streams’, ‘General Han Xin Gathering Soldiers for a Roll Call’, ‘Pouring Tea into Fragrant Cups’ and ‘Lonely Valley of Orchids’. Music and the sounds of pouring tea intermingled to a harmonious musical effect. Guests were in total silence, switching their attention from one tea utensil to another; only the host spoke, explaining each procedure of the tea ceremony and explaining its corresponding functions in French.

The first infusion of tea was offered to the Ambassador, the Ambassador’s wife and the Cameroon Minister of Economics. It is easy to drink tea, but to pour tea out of a fragrant cup into a tea-tasting cup by flipping over the fragrant cup and then sitting it upon the tasting cup is not so easy. The Cameroon Minister of Economics found the completion of this step without any spillage to be a very difficult task. Despite the tiny size of the cup, there are a great many wonders held within it. After watching demonstrations by the tea ceremony teacher a few times, the Minister mastered the trick. For Chinese people tea drinking is imbued with tranquility and elegance which surpasses the simple intrinsic value of the act of drinking a cup of tea.

Guests of Honor tasting tea

The picture exhibition commenced following the tea art show. People were able to appreciate a variety of pictures during the exhibition. A group ofguests remained, surrounding the tea table, vying for a chance to see the elegant Chinese tea brewing, have a go at the magical ‘Lonely Valley of Orchids’ pouring trick and taste first-class Chinese black tea. People in Cameroon do not often have a chance to see a Chinese tea ceremony; an opportunity for people to appreciate the ceremony up-close is even rarer. Upon hearing the news, quite a few students at the Confucius Institute ran to take part in the event in the hope of catching a glimpse of the elegant demeanor of Chinese tea art. After tasting tea, many people remained at the tea stand, reluctant to leave. Even the Chinese people at the site showed strong interest in the proceedings. They had a chance to experience a real piece of traditional Chinese culture outside their motherland: this allowed them a warm feeling of familiarity. Seeing everyone’s eyes brimming with expectation, Ms. Peng made another two infusions of tea in spite of the fact that there was not enough boiled water left to make more. Ms. Peng did not want to let the audience down; so instead of informing them of the bad news, she simply requested that people boil another kettle of water, so as to make more tea for her audience.

Guests began to leave the tea stand at the end of the exhibition, marking the real end of the day’s tea ceremony show. However, the tea fragrances had diffused a long way; flowing into the very hearts of each of the friends present on that sunny Cameroon morning.

The Confucius Institute at the University of Yaounde Ⅱ Zhao Youhua