English, French, Chinese
Hello, my name is Barbora Xu, or 許寶靈.
I invite you to an extraordinary journey through wide flavours of the tea, the tricks of the brewing technique and into the realm of relaxing vibrations of a rare Chinese zither, the guzheng (古箏). You will see the traditional way of brewing tea, drink it in several tasting rounds, you will get the opportunity to debate, ask questions and brew tea on your own. You can relax, drink and enjoy the ambient live music of another jewel of the traditional Chinese culture, the zithers. This activity is suitable as an original present for lovers of culture, tea and music. Also, you can give this experience as a gift to your loved one, offering a refreshing afternoon from out of this world.
First, I introduce myself: My interest in tea drinking and Chinese culture started when I was a child. Since then I have learned to brew different kinds of tea, speak Chinese, studied tai chi, Chinese music, caligraphy and even a bit of traditional Chinese medicine. I lived in Taiwan for a year and a half and did research on the aboriginal music in a mountaneous village from which some of the best Taiwanese oolong tea comes. Now I am in Europe and so I can share my unique knowledge and skills with you.
Before I say more about the connection between tea and the zither music, let's briefly elaborate on the activity itself. In the beginning, I will perform a tea ceremony. I can explain about the details of brewing techniques, tell you about the origin of the tea or we can focus on the experience itself in silence. You can choose what part do you want to put emphasis on during the ceremony - getting new knowledge or enjoying a show. After the tea ceremony, you can continue drinking while listening to one of the oldest zithers the humanity knows, the guqin and guzheng.
Tea drinking tradition has been existing for thousands of years and it has been enriched by musical accompaniment on traditional instruments, namely the Chinese zithers guzheng(古筝) and guqin(古琴).
I am using both of these to create the authentic atmosphere for Chinese tea ceremonies, using the improvisation technique to underline the momentary circumstance.
Guzheng is special for its huge range of colours of expression, such as honey-like mellow tones, thrilling tremolo or the humming of flowing water and glissando. It is around 2500 years old with usually 21 strings tuned in pentatonics. The strings are divided in half by movable bridges that allow for change in pitch of each note separately. Guzheng is around 160cm long, horizontally oriented instrument and it is similar to a number of Asian zithers that evolved from it, for example Japanese koto.
Guqin, the 7-string plucked zither, is much smaller and comparatively quiet. It operates mainly in low range as the original position of the notes would equal an additional base octave for guzheng. The pitch of each string can be lifted similar way as is used with guitar, with the difference that there are no lines and bridges indicating halftone intervals. Guqin is one of the musical instruments recognised by UNESCO and it is one of the four skills ancient Chinese scholars had to command.
The group size is max 10 people.
The ceremony takes place in the arts room of my home. It is 5-10 mins drive from the centre of Turku and there is also a very good bus connection. You can also bike from the centre following the bike trail along the river.
If you prefer to have the event in another location, it is possible. Please contact me/the Doerz for more details.
It is the most common to perform the ceremony on the floor (there are comfy pillows and a sofa-matrace), but you can also ask for a chair if you prefer.
I use the Taiwanese oolong tea for the ceremonies. If you would like to drink another kind of tea, specify this with your order.
I speak basic Finnish. If you would like to have a tea ceremony in Finnish, it is possible, but you will have to be lenient towards my language skills :)