Written by Fourth Estate Online Lifestyle Editor Arrielle Brooks
In the spirit of International Week 2014, the Confucius Institute at Mason held a special Chinese cultural workshop dedicated to tea on April 11.
Students of all backgrounds were invited into the Confucius Institute’s office in East Building, where they received an informational lecture from Chinese professors about the various types of Chinese tea, their origins, and their cultural significance.
“Some people drink tea every day, maybe three times a day,” said Si Dang, a professor-in-training at the Confucius Institute; “but then sometimes only when you are a guest in others’ homes. So [for each person] it is different.”
During the lecture, the professors performed the Chinese Tea Ceremony, a traditional ritual that focuses on the artistic preparation and presentation of tea.
A finely crafted tea tray with slats holds the tea set. Preparation involves warming and cleansing the tea cups with warm water, after which the excess is poured away. The pot holding the tea leaves is then filled with water from a considerable height. This pot sits in a catching bowl meant for overflowing water. After the tea has seeped for a few minutes, it is served.
Each step of the ceremony is performed with a relaxed elegance. The ceremony is typically performed in a spacious and peaceful setting, such as tea houses that are common sources of socialization in China.
“If you really like tea, and you want to taste authentic tea, then you can buy this tea set for your home,” Dang said.
Yet, beyond simply informing students about different cultural practices, the Confucius Institute strives to promote the fellowship aspect of experiencing a new culture.
Ever since the start of the spring semester, the Confucius Institute has been holding similar workshops and educational events as a way to teach students about Chinese culture. They encouraged students to engage with each other as they explore different aspects of China firsthand.
Cultural workshops in particular are held bi-weekly on Fridays at 12 p.m. For more information on the Confucius Institute and its events, please visit http://confucius.gmu.edu/.
(Illustration by Katryna Henderson)