Chinese tea names can be difficult for English-speaking tea drinkers. Mandarin characters are too thorny for our brains to grab hold of. But the most common alternative, unaccented pinyin, can be worse. If I write 茶, there is no question I am talking about “tea.” But imagine I write “cha.” Tea drinkers will probably guess what I’m referring to, and others will feel like they have something that can be looked up in a dictionary. Instead, they will still be lost: did I mean “to be surprised,” “inferior,” or “a fork”? Chinese is a tonal language, so accents or numbers must be used to convey tone information; otherwise, there can be too many possible translations for any romanized word.
Archive for January, 2012
The Philadelphia Tea Institute has been making a systematic study of The Art of Tea magazine series. The Art of Tea is the English version of 普洱壺藝, an irregularly-published periodical (an occasional?) on Chinese tea culture. This English version is marketed to non-Chinese-speaking Asian countries (e.g., Singapore, Malaysia, and Korea) for whom English is a common second language, but thankfully it’s available stateside from Tearoma. This post, my attempt at a recipe in The Art of Tea #1, will be the first in a series of comments on our studies.