Chinese Tea Party

March 23, 2008 at 11:32 PM 3 comments

Today, I had to learn how to attend a tea ceremony at my Chinese school.

Okay. Before we could even enter the tea room, which was actually just an assembly hall, we had to wash our hands. They had these not-so-clean looking stone bowls with lemon slices floating around. They probably hoped that citric acid could disinfect us.

While we were waiting outside, I noticed something. My Chinese school is supposed to be a nonprofit organization, yet I noticed that they had flat screen TV’s and even security cameras. I’m sure that there could be some better use for that wealth.*

Finally, the people were ready for us. Then it was like a roller coaster ride. They split us up into groups of six and we went off, headed by a mute lady. Buckle up, keep your hands clasped in front of you, your head bowed to your chest, don’t scream, and enjoy the ride.

The layout of the room included a small raised ledge in front of the entrances. It would’ve proposed a small obstacle in getting around, but there was a space in the center. On the other side of this ledge, were our little Rubbermaid tables and chairs, fit for little children about half my size.

You would have thought that you would walk down the middle to get to your tables. Quite on the contrary. We were lead, single file like back in the olden elementary school days, using the longest way possible to get to our tables. When we finally got there, we couldn’t sit just yet. We had to walk, twice, around our tables before we finally took our seats. It is important to note that everything was done as slowly as possible and that meditative music with the annoying plucking of an out of tune lute was playing.

I thought that my legs could finally take a break from the tedious tip-toeing, but as soon as we sat down we had to stand back up to bow to a portrait of an old monk I suspected was the founded of the school’s foundation*. Great, now my back gets to ache. Where’s that Advil?

Next on the agenda, meditation. They told us to close our eyes and listen as they put on some computer-generated noise that vaguely resembled bird calls, windy tundras, and rushing woodland streams. Apparently, it was enough to fool some people, because they answered with birds and wind. I, alone in reality, smugly answered a “CD player”. The other students must have thought I was hearing things because they began laughing. But I knew better.

We sat back down again for a lesson on taking off shoes. Everything must be done slowly and considerately to others. You can’t kick of your shoes; you must nicely remove them. You also can’t leave it right in front of the door, for it would block others way. So being courteous, you very slowly bend down, pick up your shoes, and slowly deposit them to the side. While you take your sweet time trying not to inconvenience others, people are standing behind you, twiddling their thumbs and waiting for their turn to get in the way of others.

Also, when putting back on your shoes, you must pick up your shoes, slowly as usual, and walk else where to put them on, even though it’d be faster just to stick your feet into them and start stamping. Better hope you’re wearing black socks, because they never get dirty the more that you wear ’em the blacker they get.

Thankfully, the shoe tutorial was over. Now, it was time for tea serving enlightenment. How you carry the tray is quite important. You can’t carry it too high, because that would seem like something is dirty. Understandable. You can’t carry it too low, because it makes you seem lazy and efficient. Not so understandable. You have to carry in the most energy-consuming way possible; your hands must be completely flat underneath the try, with your thumbs gripping the side so as to provide the most uncomfortable position and maximize your chances for wrist injury.

As if you didn’t bow enough, you have to bow when serving the tea, as well as having the most artificial of smiles plastered upon your face.

At any rate, several ladies brought us our tea. We then had to take turns pouring the tea into cubic centimeter cups in a counter-clockwise fashion. Say thank you to your pourer. Smile. Pick up the pitcher. Pour. Acknowledge thank you. Set pitcher down. Time consuming, isn’t it? The tea, they explained, was a special tea custom grown for the organization. My hopes brightened. Perhaps it was an exotic boba milk tea. Fertilizer. The stuff was yellow and tasted like your everyday mass-produced Asian tea.

The hostess then said, “Help yourselves.” I grabbed the teeny cup and prepared to throw it back, but apparently, the hostess wasn’t quite done speaking. We’re supposed to daintily hold your cup with your pinky finger stuck out. Just kidding. Using your thumb and forefinger, grip the cup near the lips while supporting it from the bottom with your other three fingers. It was so unstable that I was constantly scared that I would spill.

Highlight of the day. Snacks. But no crumpets. I was hoping to meet a moufflet cousin, without frosting. There was some red bean cake, a raisins and marshmallow skewer, and some interesting little droplet of a something. I braced myself for the proper way to eat. Perhaps you were supposed to nibble, seeing as how everything was supposed to be slowly done. But no instructions came, and I ate all of it in less than a minute. After eating all the food, I discovered something at the bottom of the little plate. It was a sprig of a green something, and it looked very pretty and not for eating. But, food was food, and I ate it anyways.

That about concludes the tea ceremony. On a final note, the instructor asked if we would like to share any comments. I went up there, and explained how I learned that we must do everything as slow as possible, walk as much possible, get scoliosis as much as possible, and use as much energy as possible, and be as inefficient as possible. The teacher just kept smiling. I thought it was just public relations, but somehow I had this feeling that she didn’t know I was making fun of her. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt me.

*Kind of like Communism, isn’t it?


Entry filed under: Food, School.

Moufflets: a History The Ultimate Procrastination Environment

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Korn  |  March 26, 2008 at 3:35 AM

    Actually, citric acid that is diluted in water may actually kill some bacteria. Citric acid is also known as 2-hydroxypropane-1,2,3-tricarboxylic acid. The molecular formula is C6H8O7. The structure of citric acid is basically a five carbon chain with hydrogens attached to the second and fourth carbons, covalently bonded oxygens and hydroxyl groups attached to the ends, and a hydroxyl group and a carboxyl group attached to the third carbon. Obviously, this is a hydrocarbon, it is not very soluble in water, thus allowing it to be free, allowing only a 133 g/100 ml solute concentration. From basic biology, we know that the peptidoglycan of bacteria cell walls are inorganic because of a nitrogen group. Because of the nonpolarity of the cell membrane, it gets dissolved in the citric acid, allowing osmosis of water out of the cell and shrink to death. So, citric acid’s ability to chelate makes it useful in soaps and detergents. Indeed, the lemon water was intended to kill bacteria and possibly provide a nice scent. Your chinese school must be awesome and have fun activities. I like tea.

  • 2. Jeremy  |  March 26, 2008 at 4:23 AM

    you should post something about dancing to “hoo la la” cool.

  • 3. ms. arachnid  |  March 28, 2008 at 5:52 AM

    I am soo jealous of your Chinese School…then again…you STILL go to Chinese school which is a fact that I am NOT jealous of. However, my old CS consisted of a week of learning how to read text from a book, another week of learning some vocabulary of the text in order to fully understand it, the last week of polishing up the text, and, this is my favorite part, a test on the quiz.


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