Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony

Stephanie from Steph's Cup of Tea Blog and Marilyn from Delights of the Heart Blog were the coordinators for the Wu-Wo Ceremony that took place this past weekend.  They quietly explained the principles of the ceremony, gently guided the participants through the steps involved, and generously shared their knowledge with us at this teaching event.  Their combined enthusiasm and understanding of the Wu-Wo Ceremony guided us as we participated in this new experience.

According to a brochure from the American Tea Culture Association, Wu-Wo translates as "selfless" or "void of self" where there is no distinction in knowledge, social rank or expectation of reward among the participants.  This ceremony, based on traditional Chinese Gong-Fu small pot brewing that dates back to the Ming Dynasty over 300 years ago, is a relatively new ceremony created in 1989 by Grand Master Tsai, Rong Tsang of Taiwan where those in attendance brew and serve tea together, striving to brew the best possible pot of tea. 

 Following a random drawing, participants are seated in a circle and the tea accoutrement are unwrapped in a specific order and methodically placed on a mat or tray in front of you.  The tea that you plan on serving is already in the brewing pot when you unpack it.

Once everything is in place (mat, thermos of water, brewing pot, serving vessel, small tray, four small cups, drip cloth, ornament), the participants are invited to view the variety of tea sets, take pictures, or socialize.

After a designated time, everyone returns to their seat and the brewing of the tea begins.  From this point on, the tea ceremony is conducted in respectful silence. 

Attention to brewing time is the responsibility of each participant and the goal is to brew the best possible pot of tea.  Once brewed, each participant will serve three people to their left, and the fourth cup is for themselves.  The tea is brewed, served, and tasted and then this process may be repeated, typically three times.  Once this is complete, the tea equipment is packed up, participants bow to each other, and the ceremony is completed.

Inspirational readings may occur before and after the tea ceremony.  An instinctive feeling of community develops as the group falls into an unspoken rhythm which creates a sense of sharing coupled with a spirit of joyfulness and thoughtfulness.

Steph shares her experience at a previous Wu-Wo Ceremony on her blog post here.  Marilyn shares her passion for the Wu-Wo Ceremony on her blog post here.  Additional information on this tea ceremony can be found on Wikipedia here.


Linda J. said...

I am so glad you could make the trip to Ohio to participate in this special Wu Wo opportunity.

Angela McRae said...

My goodness, if I had been able to make a trip to Ohio, I could have met almost all of my favorite tea bloggers in one fell swoop! Glad you got to learn more about this tea ceremony--and glad you shared it with us here!

Steph said...

Nancy, this a great description and lovely images. You e captured the spirit of out very well. Your tea set was gorgeous!

Marilyn said...

Thanks, Nancy, for driving all that way to share the day with us. It was a special day. Your tea set was gorgeous for sure and it was just delightful to see you again.