Ancient Chinese ceremony changes people’s lives
With enrolments in etiquette schools booming around the world, an alternative method for teaching etiquette is growing in Taiwan. Students there learn etiquette via tea art. The tea ceremony uplifts the process of tasting tea from a material level to a spiritual level. Experience has shown that learning the tea ceremony can change a student’s temperament, and can also positively affect their family’s well-being.
Re-establishing the area’s culture
Taiwan’s Taoyuan County was an early tea exporting area. In fact, most of its citizens have been making tea for generations; however, due to the industrial transformation, the tea culture in the area gradually declined. In an effort to reinvigorate the area’s culture, tea lovers founded the Taoyuan County Tea Research Institute. One such tea lover, Huang Zhiwei, who works in education, used his expertise to combine tea art with teaching etiquette. Through his method of “learning tea art happily and learning etiquette easily,” he started a trend in bringing tea art to educational settings.
Huang said that a lot of people were confused by the difference between the tea ceremony and tea art. A tea ceremony emphasizes the form, while tea art is more about the spiritual connotation. It is a spiritual facet of art and a means of cultivating one’s morality and raising one’s temperament. Tea had been a part of Chinese traditional culture since ancient times, but today’s young generation has gradually forgotten how to taste tea.
Promoting tea culture and getting tea art into young people’s lives is the mission
Huang said that the teaching of tea art has had the consistent and significant effect of internalizing one’s temperament and changing one’s character. The teaching of tea art in Taoyuan has a history of more than 10 years. It is taught in elementary school, junior high school, senior high school, and even within government offices, and it has gained affirmation from all walks of life. Fan Shu Vocational School has listed tea art courses as compulsory for their students.
An early tea art class student, Yunzao Ye, said:
“The tea art class changed my attitude and view of life. It calms the mood and improves concentration. It even made me think more about the direction of my life.”
Yunzao works in the computer science industry. The mental and physical pressures are formidable, and making tea is the best way for him to reduce the pressure.
Tea art changes hearts
Dingshen Huang, who was an earlier advocate of the tea art course in Fan Shu Vocational School, noted that while high school students’ minds are typically impatient, the tea courses can make the students more stable, confident, and disciplined through tranquilizing their hearts, meditation, and etiquette. It has been confirmed that the tea courses can change the thoughts of the students and enhance their academic performance. Dingshen remarked vividly:
“There are too many moving stories about the teaching of tea art to count. For example, on each mother’s day, while the students serve tea and express gratitude to their mothers, there are always a lot of parents with tears rolling down their faces. The students who had been quite shy become the ones who are the most confident. All this makes me feel that I didn’t just change a child, but I also changed a family, and its influence is like ripples flowing out.”