In Chinese culture, tea ceremony has a long history and it has passed down to generations. And today, this tradition is being embodied through performances and cultural events. On September 29, Family Ma’s Yard had its Tea Ceremony debut, which had attracted numerous tea lovers, theatre artists, media and press.
As one of the historical and cultural relics in Kunming, Family Ma’s Yard is probably one of the ideal places to experience the traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony in Kunming. It is the most intact classical Bai style architecture in Kunming City which has been awarded as the Cultural Heritage Protection Award of Asia Pacific Region by UNESCO in 2001. Family Ma’s Yard incorporates the Signet Residence, which is a traditional architectural form that could be considered as a cultural heritage with Kunming characteristics and a Courtyard building, presenting a vivid image of the combination of both cultures from the Central Plains in China and the Southwestern ethnic inhabited areas.
In Kunming, a traditional way of having tea is called “Jiu Dao Cha”, literally meaning Nine Tea Ceremonies. And it is said to be also called the Tea to Welcome the Guests as it is how local people greet their guests at their home.
In Yunnan, people consider Mr. Kong Ming the Tea ancestor. Legends has it that Mr. Kong Ming had dreamed of a senior teaching him to apply tea to cure diseases. And later he taught people in Yunnan to grow tea trees, therefore, Yunnan people acknowledge him as the Tea ancestor. According to historical records, locals would hold a special ceremony to the Tea ancestor on the birthday of Mr. Kong Ming (Chinese lunar calendar, July 23).
The traditional Kunming singing, applying the Kunming local dialect plus the old way of singing, is an art form that has been fading out of the stage for more than half a century. And one of the influential Kunming singings now is the Kunming opera. It is also applies the local dialect along with the dulcimer to represent such a unique theatrical art and an extraordinary Kunming culture.
Yunnan is home for multi ethnic groups which contribute to a great variety of tea ceremonies. The Nine Tea Ceremony entails nine scenes including “Pay respect to the Tea Ancestor”, “In Searching for the Way of Tea”, “To Praise the Yunnan Tea”, “To Appreciate the Tea”, “To Experience the culture of the Tea House”, “To Examine the utensils for tea drinking”, “To Taste the Refreshment”, “To enjoy the art” and “To be Enlightened by tea ceremony”.
Dialogues, poetry recitation and Tea Ceremony and other forms of performances will tell the story of the old Kunmingers’ and their ways of enjoying tea.
(photo credit: Lucy Lee)