Saturday, April 5, 2014

Qingming 清明節 2014


A drizzling rain falls like tears on Qing Ming;
The mourner's heart is breaking on his way.
Where can a tavern be found to drown his sadness?
A cowherd points to Xing Hua (Apricot Blossoms) Village.

- Du Mu 杜牧 (803–852) of Tang

This year Qingming festival 清明節 falls on 05 April.

Du Mu's poem alludes to Qingming rains. Tradition has it that it will rain on this day piling more misery to those already heavy with grief in remembrance of their departed loved ones.

Almost every year I like to post something about this festival because of its connection with tea. Tea lovers all over the world look forward to pre-Qingming teas specially from China, the country where tea originated. Despite the stratospheric prices for these pre-Qingming teas they are in great demand. Accordingly this festival is of great significance to all of us involved in tea.

Qingming Festival usually falls 104 days after winter equinox. On this solemn day families visit ancestral graves and tombs to sweep and clean them and generally remember their forebears. The festival itself is said to have started during the Spring Autumn Period (771-476 BCE).

One does not celebrate Qingming for it is a solemn day. However on this special day for tea, I shall reminisce about the bowl of tea that I had in a wonderful natural setting of a tea garden in the mountains of central Taiwan. The feeling was out of this world: much like the 7th bowl of tea of Lu Tong 盧仝. Of course, some exquisite tea will be on the menu for the day as an offering to the Gods and ancestors for a successful 2015.

Tea "ceremony" near Pagua Tea garden somewhere in central Taiwan. (March 2014)

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