The original East meets West? The Silk Road. Also known as The Silk Route, this network of trade was central to the cultural interaction between China, India, Persia, Europe, Arabia and more. Silk traders, merchants and monks (along with their goods, technologies, philosophies and religions) were among the many who travelled this path extending about 4,000 miles. The Chinese took great lengths (literally extending the Great Wall) to ensure the safety of the trade route and their products.
It is with this same rigour that the Chinese also protect their ancient tradition and rituals -- especially when it comes to the Art of Tea. If you’ve ever experienced a tea ceremony (and there are several different kinds), you know that it involves the preparation and presentation of tea and that it’s a highly skillful performance. It’s a cultural activity that reflects the virtue of beauty in everyday life. The gestures, movements and mannerisms and the way that the tools are artfully utilized during the ceremony must demonstrate refinement, spiritual content, humility, restraint and simplicity. The tea ceremony is also intended to focus mental energies and encourage relaxation.
There are thousands of teahouses in China and each uniquely reflects the values and culture of its province and people. There's also a variety of medicinal properties in tea and the Chinese tea plant is the source of three distinct flavours: green, black and oolong. The famous Kung Fu (Gongfu) tea from the Chaoshan region of Guangdong is considered THE espresso of China (with a big kick to back that up). This tea consists of a very detailed process from tea selection (Oolong believed to be the best leaves as they are high in antioxidants and are beneficial to the metabolism of sugar, the treatment of skin disorders and a plethora of other ailments) to choosing tea ware and the handling of a nilu (heat resistant clay kettle). Olive 'cores' are burned in a small charcoal fire as they give off fragrant smoke (olive pit charcoal featured below is considered to be one of the four treasures of the Chao Zhou tea ceremony) and the fire is also managed by a small fan to perfect its temperature. Only pure mountain spring water is boiled for the tea and it's this kind of attentive detail that makes production ceremonious.
Take a trip to Beijing and you will discover that drinking tea during a ceremony is to honour the capital where everything has a rich touch (also known as the arts and cultural capital of China). To Beijing elders, the traditional teahouse is not just for tasting tea but also to experience traditional performances like the Beijing Opera. Beijing also boasts the largest tea market in China (so immense that they named a street after it). Maliandao Tea Street spans an area of over 64,000 square feet and has over 8 large tea malls to explore. The prices are negotiable, so prepare to bargain if you ever get a chance to visit!
For the Chinese, tea is a way of life so deeply rooted in ancestral tradition that it has many nuances. One can prepare tea to apologize, show a sign of respect or to simply connect during large family gatherings. A diverse country with numerous nationalities, the art of tea varies as do the customs depending on the ancient history of the region.
Skip ahead to modern day and to the vibrant city of Victoria, British Columbia, where tradition is still going strong. Head over to Canada’s first Chinatown where you will find Silk Road Tea Company. Apply the same aspects to the meticulous preparation and production of tea as well as organic growing practices and premium quality, fresh, organic botanicals.
Ceremony aside, who doesn’t love a great cup of tea especially when you know that you’re nourishing yourself with quality ingredients, anti-oxidants and medicinal properties? We are proud to carry an assortment of tea by Silk Road Tea Company and we hope that you enjoy your own ritual when you settle in to a hot cup prior to your acupuncture treatment at Victoria Community Acupuncture + Spa. Think about the ancient wisdom of health that was passed along the cultural highway many centuries ago when you take your first sip and meet full flavour and the fragrance of flowers, leaves and herbs. This is the secret behind great tea right? It’s about the journey...
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