Left:Colorful teacakes& calligraphy—a meditation style in spring.Upper right:Water lilies match the light color teacakes in summer.Lower right: Use chrysanthemum, maples, and dark color food in fall.
From TTNews Reporter Rong Hong
People who are accustomed drinking tea always eat some snacks in tea time. To increase the interests in tea drinking, the host always prepare some delicate teacakes.
It is said the Chinese tea drinking started in Wei Chin Southern-Northern Dynasty. At that time, the hosts treated their guests to luxurious feast in tea time. Until Eastern Chin, Lu Na and Huan Wun who felt the teacakes were too sumptuous advocated using dried fruit or fresh fruit in tea time. This simple fashion then gained praises from all circles.
Nowadays, there is a variety of teacakes. We invited Mei-feng, one of the members in Tzu Chi to promote tea ceremony, to share her experiences to us. She represented that the sweet snacks always have high priority when preparing the teacakes. If preparing teacakes for two or three people, the snacks could be chosen based on personal interest.
The weak tea is mild and suitable for going with the sweeter snacks. You can choose cakes or dried fruit to neutralize the base in the stomach. The ripe tea is tough enough to match heavy flavored snacks such as delicacies made from peanuts or sesame. However, because the ripe tea has honey flavor, do not choose strong sweet snacks. People easily get bored if both the tea and snacks are too sweet. Choosing simple teacakes is the principle.
The teacakes are always served after 1st infusion and before 2nd infusion. In a formal tea feast, a handful of delicate and small teacakes will be chosen. To avoid spoiling the decent tea feast, people seldom choose the watermelon seeds, peanuts, and other snacks with shells. Prepare one helping of teacakes for each person when the feast takes longer. It is particular about the plate decoration of teacakes. The use of colors needs to be appropriate and consistent to the theme. It is better to pick the natural leaves and flowers as decorations. The decoration needs to be good to hear or see. So, the teacakes play an important role in the tea feast.
Mei-feng specially demonstrated the plate decoration. She decided the materials and colors according to the season. In spring, the teacakes have various colors and kinds; in summer, choose the light color materials; in fall, the dark color food and some maple leaves will harmonize; in winter, pick the warm food such as fried Machi or rice products.