"Wu-Wo" tea ceremony is an outdoor tea ceremony, based on the Taiwanese gong-fu style tea brewing method, but embracing all different cultural styles of brewing tea. As many as 1000 people brew tea outdoors for themselves and each other--simultaneously and in silence. If you are interested in viewing or participating in such an event, you will have a rare and outstanding opportunity to do so this weekend.
The12th International Wu-Wo Tea Convention--a bi-annual event usually held in Asia-- is coming to the United States for the first time, next weekend. Hosted by the American Tea Culture Association, the three-day event, from October 16-18, will feature two public outdoor tea ceremonies, each expected to draw upwards of 150 people from around the world, who will be bringing their favorite teas and teaware, and in traditional dress, brew tea for each other outdoors. Tea brewers will be coming from Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, and other areas for this rare, bi-annual convention.
Teas and tea brewing styles will be as different and diverse as the participants. If you miss this convention, you will likely have to wait another ten years for it to return to the United States.
"The Wu-Wo tea ceremony encourages participants to forget about knowledge, wealth, and appearance and to establish group equality without prejudice," said Betsy Meyer of the American Tea Culture Association.
Listen to this podcast interview with Betsy Meyer on the fun and fascinating wu-wo tea ceremony:
Click here to listen:
The ceremony originated in Taiwan, where Grand Master Tsai Rong Tsang decided that he would like a more convenient way for modern people to do an outdoor tea ceremony. He discovered that by using a thermos of hot water and placing tea leaves in the pot beforehand, you can easily take your tea set out on a hike or out to a park. From that outdoor service, he asked 'Well, why not do it in a group?' and that's how the Wu-Wo tea ceremony and convention was born.
For larger gatherings, tea brewers choose lots to determine their seating, and then brew and serve tea to the three people on their left, while reserving one cup for themselves. Sitting in a circle, the three people to your right will be serving you their tea while you serve your tea to the three people to your left. As such, each person is both host and guest, tea server and tea sipper. At least three steepings are brewed before everyone packs up and goes about their day (or hike). The whole ceremony takes only about 30 minutes.
Many events at the convention require payment, but the Sunday Wu-Wo tea ceremony is open to the public and free of charge. You must register to be a tea brewer at the event, so follow the links in this entry. The Sunday morning (Oct. 18 @ 9 a.m.) event will be held at the Foster City Parks and Recreation Center (650 Shell Drive, Foster City, CA), about 30 minutes south of San Francisco. Anyone interested in participating must register in advance, and will need a little practice. There will be a practice period on Friday morning, at 10 a.m. at the same location. Listen to the podcast above for information on what to bring with you, and go to www.atcasf.org to pre-register for the ceremony.
Friday 10/16: 10 a.m. practice session: Pioneer Memorial Park, Mountain View. Contact Betsy Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for training and to receive an equipment list.
Saturday 10/17: 9 a.m. Wuwo Ceremony in Memorial Park, Cupertino
Sunday 10/18: 9 a.m. Wuwo Ceremony at Foster City Parks & Rec Center 650 Shell St., Foster City. This event is free and open to the public.
Please go to the American Tea Culture website for complete information on tea ceremony presentations, dinners, and other events taking place during the convention.