Activities mark UNESCO's recognition of rich tea culture

Wu Huixin
Hangzhou has hosted several events to mark the first anniversary of the inclusion of tea ceremonies in UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage.
Wu Huixin
Activities mark UNESCO's recognition of rich tea culture
Ti Gong

Tea ceremony utensils

Several events have been held in Hangzhou to celebrate the first anniversary of the millennium-old tea-making craft being listed in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s intangible cultural heritage list. These events were aimed at promoting the tea-making craft and increasing awareness of its cultural significance.

Last year, China’s traditional tea processing techniques and associated social practices, which includes West Lake Longjing tea and Jingshan tea ceremonies, was approved at the 17th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Local authorities recognized the first group of skilled craftsmen with 50 years of experience at the celebration ceremony, and acknowledged them as significant contributors to the tradition for raising a new generation of inheritors.

The ceremonies at the China National Tea Museum’s Shuangfeng Pavilion included an apprenticeship ceremony. In the coming years, top-tier technicians will teach trainees their trade to ensure its continuity.

After decades of practice, top-tier specialists have developed a smooth and efficient process for producing tea, which involves ventilating, drying, and screening the tea leaves and frying them for 10 hours before packaging them in tins.

The most important skill that young people will learn is how to fry tea leaves. The process of frying tea leaves by hand rather than using machines is essential for preserving the natural fragrance of the tea. As hands are more capable of sensing temperature and adjusting the frequency of stirring.

Aside from broadening the talent pool, local authorities have encouraged young people to make popular tea items and livestream tea ceremonies to promote tea ceremonies.

Activities mark UNESCO's recognition of rich tea culture
Ti Gong

Various teas and processing methods are on display in Hangzhou to celebrate China’s traditional tea-making’s UNESCO listing.

The Yuhang District team has designed products centered on Jingshan tea and Lu Yu to propagate traditional tea culture and attract more young people. They’ve fused trendy milk bubble tea with Jingshan tea to appeal to modern tastes.

The Chinese tea ceremony began in Jingshan during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618–907) period. Lu Yu, known as China’s “Sage of Tea,” published “The Classic of Tea” in the Jingshan, the earliest comprehensive text on cultivating, producing and drinking tea.

The Jingshan tea ceremony is the centerpiece of the local tea industry, and it contains a set of processes and specific ways of employing tea and vessels that differ from current tea ceremonies.

They boiled the powdered tea with a modest amount of hot water and then whisked it into a mush with a small whisk. Additional boiling water was added to dilute the mush.

The tea ceremony, as a ritual performance on important occasions, had a profound influence on Chinese tea-drinking history. In recent years, local tea companies have frequently livestreamed performances while also selling tea online.

With the advent of guochao, a movement that embraces Chinese culture and transforms traditional crafts into avant-garde designs, the Jingshan tea ceremony has been influencing young people.

The guochao trend has boosted the popularity of traditional tea utensils. At the celebration ceremony, several design works were on display.

On the occasion of the anniversary, the China National Tea Museum launched three professional publications that provide readers with a comprehensive image of local tea, including information on tea plantations, plucking tea leaves, handcrafted processing, drinking and ceremony.

In Hangzhou, the western and northern hilly areas are home to the time-honored Longjing and Jingshan teas. As a part of the celebrations, local departments will choose the 10 best picturesque tea-themed locations across the city.

Pu’er City in southwest China’s Yunnan Province donated a tea brick to the China National Tea Museum, made from old tea trees growing in Jingmai Mountain.

UNESCO inscribed the Cultural Landscape of Old Tea Forests on Jingmai Mountain on the World Heritage List in September. The grant aims to increase exchanges between diverse tea cultures in China.

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