The communist (cultural) revolution (1966-1976) destroyed China's traditions. Then the recent economic boom has emphasized the modernization of the country. One of the rare place where you can still have a glimpse at the past are historical temples like those I visited on Emei Shan. They are the guardians of ancient architecture and spirituality.
1. Sad. Over thousand years of refined tea culture are forgotten, gone. All that's left is the gaiwan, green tea leaves and an ugly, big, plastic water kettle.
2. Hopeful. These local Chinese visitors are still drinking local whole leaf tea (as opposed to coffee, tea bags with sugar&milk or soft drinks)! And they do so in a place that connects them with nature and Chinese history through the architecture of the temples.
|Tea books sold at Chengdu's airport|
A Chinese tea Renaissance is in the making. Tea books are becoming popular in China. A couple of years ago, Teaparker's most recent books have been published in simplified characters on the Mainland. Such books help make the link between the past and the present.
Lost knowledge is just waiting to be dug up from old books, paintings, archeological research... As China focuses its vast resources on tea culture, it will make great progress in reclaiming its ancestral tea culture.
This next real challenge is more difficult: knowledge alone isn't sufficient to renew the link to ancient traditions. You also need a good teacher who helps to make the link between theory and practice. The knowledge of the classics must be translated into action, into Chaxi!
Each generation grows when it builds on what previous generations have discovered. The more you understand the past tea culture, the more you'll understand the present and can shape its future.