This is a true story:
One day I told a Chinese man I happened to know that I was attempting to learn Gongfu Cha.
This Chinese man looked at me with confusion and said, “What?”
I was surprised that he did not know exactly what I was talking about. Perhaps I did not pronounce the words the correct way. How else could I say it? “I’m trying to lean the Gongfu Cha tea ceremony.”
He still looked very confused and said, “What does the ceremony look like?”
I told him about the lose leaf tea in a gaiwan, or yixing tea pot, the multiple infusions, the small cups…
“Ohhhh that,” he said. “We never called it ‘gong-fu-cha‘ we always called it ‘lao-ren-cha‘.”
I’d watched countless YouTube videos of Gongfu Cha, and read whatever I could find about it on the internet, but I’d never heard the term ‘lao ren cha‘ before so I asked, “Why did you call it that?”
“Well I’ve heard it called ‘gongfu‘ too. You know that ‘gongfu‘ mean ‘with great skill‘?” This confirmed what I had read, so I nodded to show I agreed. “Well to make tea that way you do need skill, but it takes a long time to make the tea that way, sometimes more than an hour people will sit around making and drinking tea. You understand?” Again I nod to show that I understood. “Only old men have the time to sit around and make and drinking tea that way, so we would call it ‘lao ren cha‘ which mean ‘old man’s tea.”
When I got home I checked to see if the domain name was available. It was. I registered it and set up this blog.