Phase 1: Posing Real Questions
My knowledge on tea to the Bai minority is very limited. I know that the Bai minority is the largest minority group in Dali, Yunnan. Their tea ceremony is one of their most important rituals. It is both a cultural ceremony and a way to welcome guests. I also have heard of the saying 一苦二甜三回味 (First time bitter, second time sweet, third time after taste) and know the direct meaning of the saying. I learned this knowledge from my Chinese teacher a few years ago as well as from the research on the internet. Yunnan is the only place in China in which the environment is suitable for Pu'er Tea to grow. I know this since my parents sometimes discuss Pu'er tea as a tea they drink. Finally, I have read a few articles on the Tea Horse Trail on the National Geographics. I know that the trail plays an important part in the economy of ancient China. It is similar to the SIlk Road, a trail where merchants travel to trade their tea and their horses.
After two weeks of research, I learned an interesting piece of information this week from a tea vendor at Dali Old Town with an extensive knowledge on tea. The tea ceremony is not an "authentic" ceremony that is an important part of the Bai minority tea culture with an extensive history in the culture. It is a something which is merely performed for tourists. I learned that the ceremony was developed in the 1980s from a group of scholars and intellectuals as a way to promote tourism in Yunnan. However, parts of the "authentic" tea practices of the Bai people is incorporated in the tea ceremony and in fact, some Bai people is starting to perform this ceremony for themselves and not just for tourists! Therefore, I've decided to shift my project focus. My project is still on tea culture, but now it is on the evolution of the Bai minority tea culture and what causes this change and evolution. I will still focus on the tea ceremony as a main example of this change and the way it plays into the "real" tea culture of the Bai minority.
Below are the questions I am going to research about - the ones in italics are already answered in Phase 3:
-What is the tea ceremony?
-When is the tea ceremony performed?
-What is the process of making the tea for the ceremony?
-What is the meaning of the saying 一苦二甜三回味？(First time bitter, second time sweet, third time after taste)
-What are the steps of the tea ceremony?
-What do they represent?
-Why are they performed in this order?
-What values can be seen in the ceremony?
-How is the ceremony related to the Bai people’s perspective of tea?
-When is the tea ceremony created?
-Why was it created?
-What areas of authentic Bai minority tea culture are incorporated in the tea ceremony?
-What are the origins of the tea ceremony?
-How do the Bai people view the tea ceremony?
-How can it be that the tea ceremony is so quickly incorporated in Bai minority tea culture?
-How does tea, as a whole (not just the tea ceremony) play in the daily life of the Bai people?
-What is the Bai people’s perspective of tea drinking as a whole?
-What is the difference between the authentic tea ceremony and the tea ceremony performed for tourists?
-What causes the change and evolution of the tea culture of the Bai minority?
Questions to ask to the locals:
-What changes to your tea practices have happened?
-When were the changes and why?