I recently gave a presentation on “Chinese Tea Culture” at the Narberth Public Library. See here for coverage by the local patch.com affiliate! And hey, look at the comments–somebody else wants me to do another presentation. Thanks, Mom!
People definitely left with solid tea fundamentals, and having tasted four great teas. I think I had a good mix of PowerPoint slides, tea tasting, lecturing, and “concrete manipulatives”–tea and utensils for people to examine up close. I also did well pacing all of these; I never found myself talking to fill time while water boiled, for example. And yet I felt like I didn’t see the sparkle of excitement in anyone’s eye…I don’t know if I could have done anything differently, or if Chinese Tea Culture is simply too remote for most people.
CTC has certainly been hard enough for me to acquire. I was chagrined when somebody remarked that I wasn’t explaining all the steps of gongfu in enough detail, but I was hard put to justify the gaps in my knowledge that I’ve had to fill in myself. I’ve gotten my information from books, magazines, the internet, and transmitted through a succession of practitioners. All of these methods seem to lack varying degrees of fidelity. When something is missing, or doesn’t make sense, I’m forced to invent a solution. I find myself more sympathetic to those ancient book copyists, making those interpolations in fragmentary manuscripts which now seem ridiculous.
The primary point I tried to convey in my presentation was the vast diversity that composes China. There isn’t one Chinese Language, and there isn’t one Chinese Tea Culture. I have Philadelphia Chinese Tea Culture. It hardly sounds prestigious, but it’s still a valid response to a particular set of circumstances. I just wish there were more practitioners.