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Topic: chaozhou gong fu article / olive pit charcoal stoves (潮州工夫茶, 橄榄炭炉)

Will - did you come across this article when we were talking about charcoal stoves / olive pit charcoal? Is it interesting enough to be worth translating, and does anyone want to volunteer?

http://bbs.chaoshanren.com/thread-379970-1-1.html

Re: chaozhou gong fu article / olive pit charcoal stoves (潮州工夫茶, 橄榄炭炉)

I haven't seen this article. It looks really good. I will translate this and also the one about throat ulcers, hopefully this week. Sorry I haven't been doing much translating, but I have not been feeling up to much recently.

If anyone else wants to translate it before I do, please go ahead, I won't feel offended.

红焙浅瓯新火活,龙团小碾斗晴窗

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3 (edited by william 2008-12-09 02:31:18)

Re: chaozhou gong fu article / olive pit charcoal stoves (潮州工夫茶, 橄榄炭炉)

Please take your time and don't worry about it! You're not hear to be our translation slave; only do it if it's useful / non-stressful for you. I'll see if I can con some of my friends into helping to translate some things too.

I was interested that they seem to be saying something about not having the charcoal stove on the same table as the tea set? Or is the computer translating that wrong?

BTW, jealous of this Singapore restaurant that has a full setup for their customers at the table (via Tim's web log):
http://themandarinstea.blogspot.com/200 … amily.html
See the bottom photo and his comments.

My girlfriend and some of my friends get really embarrassed when I bring my own tea to restaurants or teahouses... would be nice if there were more around that encouraged this and had a nice setup like this one!


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Re: chaozhou gong fu article / olive pit charcoal stoves (潮州工夫茶, 橄榄炭炉)

william wrote:

BTW, jealous of this Singapore restaurant that has a full setup for their customers at the table (via Tim's web log):
http://themandarinstea.blogspot.com/200 … amily.html
See the bottom photo and his comments.

My girlfriend and some of my friends get really embarrassed when I bring my own tea to restaurants or teahouses... would be nice if there were more around that encouraged this and had a nice setup like this one!

I just saw Tim's pictures this morning. They don't have setups like this one where I am at all.

It seems like in China it is fine to bring some of your own things to most restaurants. During wedding where I live, most families bring all the beer, wine and liquor to the restaurant where they have the reception. People bring cakes to restaurants on their birthdays, and often bring their own teas into teashops where they are frequent customers.

I would be somewhat embarrassed to bring my own tea in the US. How do the owners usually respond?

红焙浅瓯新火活,龙团小碾斗晴窗

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5 (edited by william 2008-12-09 05:31:09)

Re: chaozhou gong fu article / olive pit charcoal stoves (潮州工夫茶, 橄榄炭炉)

Well I've mostly done it at Chinese places, and usually ones where I go frequently and know the staff already. The waitress at this one vegetarian place where I go a lot (it's a Taiwanese place, but the woman, slightly older than most of the staff there, is from Northern China) always asks me if I want hot water, and I think she thinks it's cute -- she even talks about how I know about tea to friends of mine if I go with someone. I usually try to use enough leaves that the staff can brew them again for themselves if they want.

At other places, people seem to not mind or not notice, but it's hard to get hot water, because a lot of the time they just automatically bring you teabag tea, and sometimes, whether I say "re shui" or "hot water", they think I mean either "hot tea" or "cold water". As a general rule, once I've tried to ask for hot water once and not gotten it, I don't push the issue. The worst was when the woman at the restaurant brought me what must have been straight-from-the-tap hot water -- it wasn't very hot, and it had an awful metallic taste. The restaurant's soup had the same metallic taste... I think they need to filter their water.

I usually try to be pretty discreet, since I feel a little awkward about doing it. I usually have a bag or tin of tea in my bag, so I just put a little tea into my hand under the table, and then dump it into the pot or cup. I have gotten some questions or funny looks from other patrons, but that's about all.

Keep in mind that almost all places in the SGV area of LA (other than Dim Sum places or high end Cantonese banquet places, which usually serve cheap tieguanyin or, if you ask, cheap shu pu'er) don't serve loose-leaf tea at all. And I'm not talking about Americanized Chinese places -- there are a lot of fairly authentic places serving various regional cuisines to a mostly Chinese and Chinese-American clientele. And most of them serve teabag jasmine tea. If you're really lucky, you'll get loose-leaf jasmine tea, or teabag oolong tea. As one of my friends put it to me "I don't think they'll be offended; they know they serve crappy tea.

Sometimes at western places, I'll order hot water and put tea leaves in the mug or whatever. Hasn't ever really caused me problems.

The most embarassed I've ever made someone from it (I think) is when I was at Imperial Tea Court in SF with my sister and her partner / boyfriend. I like some of ITCs teas, but I wasn't really in the mood for any of them, and I happened to have a late 80s / early 90s 7542 in my bag. I asked for a gaiwan setup and hot water (I offered to pay as if I were getting tea service, of course), and the server didn't seem to mind too much, though he seemed a little confused. Afterwards, he wanted to know what kind of tea I was brewing. I left him all I had left, which wasn't quite enough for a good sample.


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Re: chaozhou gong fu article / olive pit charcoal stoves (潮州工夫茶, 橄榄炭炉)

and often bring their own teas into teashops where they are frequent customers.

I do this with my local tea shop (which caters to the local Chinese community). I take him some aged puerh and he'll gladly brew it up. On one occasion I took in a shu and he recognized the leaf and pulled some out from his private stash to brew side-by-side. I took it to him with the idea of trying to get him to carry it, but his kinda put mine to shame, heh... so much for that. I think he just thought I was bringing it for him to taste, rather than to see if he'd sell it, but since then I've just taken him various samples of aged puerh. He seems to be happy to just share tea, and is glad to try something different than what he has once in a while.


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Re: chaozhou gong fu article / olive pit charcoal stoves (潮州工夫茶, 橄榄炭炉)

LaoChaGui wrote:

I haven't seen this article. It looks really good. I will translate this and also the one about throat ulcers, hopefully this week. Sorry I haven't been doing much translating, but I have not been feeling up to much recently.

If anyone else wants to translate it before I do, please go ahead, I won't feel offended.

Any chance you might be able to translate? :) I feel bad for asking, because I don't want to take your translations for granted and I know these things take time (I would put off re-typing it even if it was in English) but I'm also curious to see what it really says. I used Google translate and got most of it, though, so no biggie for me, but if you do have the time it would be great :) (BTW, I'm always willing to help clean up the grammar if anyone ever wants it. I know that just about any English speaker can do it, but I'm willing to put my own time in and I've done so for work projects in the past :) )


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Re: chaozhou gong fu article / olive pit charcoal stoves (潮州工夫茶, 橄榄炭炉)

Chaozhou Gongfu Cha clay stove, clay kettle and olive pit charcoal [1]
Chaozhou Gongfu Cha, is also known as Chao-Shan (Chaozhou and Shantou) Gongfu Cha. These two terms are of the same origin and are synonymous.  The pre-modern prefecture of Chaozhou included Shantou as well as many other cities and towns. [2] The history of Chaozhou tea culture is linked to all of these places, which is why it's called "Chaozhou gongfu cha" 

Chaozhou gongfu cha is flexible and its many origins have blended to give it a distinct character. It terms of technique and paraphernalia it is open-ended, flexible and pluralistic. Its flexibility invites innovation. 

The four treasures of gongfu cha: Yixing zisha teapots, Jingdezhen ruoshen Cup, Maple Creek clay kettle, and Chaoyang terracotta stove. Also prized are Yan family Chaoyang tin cans and Chao'an Chen clan feather fans.[3]
As mentioned above, Chaozhou Gongfu Cha has distinct characteristics. As long as there is a tea boat -- and these are found in every household -- it is considered gongfu cha. As Mr. Weng says "The tea set used by Chaozhou people is all basically the same. The difference lies in the quality of the tea set which is finer or coarser in accord with the means of the householder." This is the foundation of the saying "Enjoyed alike by gentleman and commoner." 
Basis. In his preface[4], Mr. Weng writes: "Whether at a banquet, relaxing alone, in a shop or factory, by the side of the road, or in the shade of bean pole, in the busiest times just as in the most idle; the denizens of Chaozhou will never be without a stove and kettle or lifting the teapot to fill the cups as it is essential to his enjoyment of life. The most characteristic and important part of Chaozhou gongfu cha is to use refined technique to continuously receive the teachings of the tea. [5]

At the beginning of the Qing Dynasty there was a plebeian poet Chen Gongyin, who along with Liang Peilan and Qu Dayue made up the "Three Greats of Lingnan." Chen Gongyin wrote a "Wulu" type poem in praise of Chaozhou tea utensils.

The white stove and green cauldron from Chaozhou are the best,
Burning clean, it can be placed near the house; being small it's carried easily.
A vent invites the power of the wind, add spring water to quell the water's sound,
Much besides ordinary food and drink is needed to cultivate a "Floating Life"[6]

The white stove (bai2zao4) is the small cylindrical tea stove "made from fine white clay" recorded by Yu Jiao. The 'green cauldron' (qing1cheng1 is a 'tile file' (which means sha1tiao3 or the clay kettle used for boiling water. These two items are two of the 'four treasures' of gongfu cha (mentioned above.), and we can feel the praise in the poet Luofu's words when he says "The white stove and green cauldron from Chaozhou are the best," and we can realize they are fine, clean, compact, portable, they have all these attributes which cause them to be so prised. The quality of the tea utensils reflects the flourishing tea culture of Chaozhou at that time.

The traditional small red (or white) stove, popularly known as "feng1lu4zai3", was six or seven inches high, and was equipped with a cover, the vent also had a cover, and when the tea session was finished, the two apertures were closed, thus extinguishing the fire. This was known as 冇炭, and provided material to kindle fire for the next use. Therefore, these stoves were safe, economical, and convenient to use. There was another sort of stove which was 2 inches taller which had a drawer like compartment in the bottom in which extra olive pit charcoal could be stored. One sophisticated tool with two uses! 

The clay kettle was also popularly known as "cha guo zai", or "bo guo zai," a more sophisticated name was  "Yu shu wei," (The meaning of this phase is uncertain.) This was a small kettle made of clay which contained a lot of sand. A set of stove and kettle, "Fenglu Boguozai," These two items were useless if separated, and was a necessity in every household in the Shantou-Chaozhou area.[7]

Water is the foundation to any tea. Fire is it's assistant.
Water boiled for tea requires "live fire." What is "live fire?" When making tea water is of utmost importance, but fire is not secondary. One of Su Dongpo's poems says, "Living water must be heated with live fire. Live fire refers to charcoal fire with a flame." Chaozhou people make tea with charcoal made from the burls or twisted grain of hardwoods. The charcoal must be fired completely, so that no sap remains, and should retain a pleasant smoky scent. When tapped it should have a crisp sound, and be a deep black color. This is good charcoal to make tea with. Even better is olive pit charcoal. Black olive pits are stripped of the fruit and fired until there is no more smoke. "It is noble like a refreshing breeze, when used to make tea, the flame is live and even, not too strong, nor too weak." This olive pit charcoal is the most precious and rare.

Others, such as pine charcoal, charcoal made of mixed materials, firewood, coal and so on, have no business in a Gongfu Cha stove.

Qiu Fengjia's poem "Chaozhou spring musings" part six, are still popular: 

In crooked court, spring breezes play; sipping tea all day.
Olive coals in bamboo stove, boiling tea with my own hand.
Small clay pots steep new 'wren's mouth,'
Come taste Chaoshan 'virgin spring.'

However, in recent decades, except for the canisters and cups, the 'four treasures' have fallen out of use, and there is a trend of simplification in Chaozhou tea utensils. The ancient and modern are different, and people's ways of life are different; however, some pursue authenticity, and continue to use the traditional methods and traditional gongfu cha utensils.

Traditional gongfu cha technique requires the stove to be placed seven steps away from the tea set. In this way the water is carried to the area of the tea session, and "one can hear the sound, but the tool is in the background.

In regards to this, Liang Shiqiu thought it was not natural. He wrote "I'm not sure that this was not purposefully being mysterious. With regards to the stove and the tea set being seven steps distant, after all it is standard to use boiling water." Mr. Liang does not understand gongfu chadao, so he didn't understand the mystery of the seven steps. Firstly, creating a distance between the two helps to avoid the smoke and heat. Secondly, When the kettle is placed on the stove, it is hard to avoid a certain amount of ashes settling on the spout of kettle when the fire is fanned. Practiced students of gongfu chadao will dump out the 'water's head' before making tea to avoid adding ashes to the tea. When the fire is fanned to make the water boil, the spout of the kettle gets very hot. No water is in contact with it to transfer heat, so it will much hotter than 100 degrees celcius. When the head of the water is poured out, the water will bubble, and can cause injury if one is not careful. Thirdly, water which has reached the third boil should not be poured directly onto the tea leaf. Therefore, this is not being mysterious on purpose.

Chaozhou gongfu cha stove, clay kettle, and olive pit charcoal all complement eachother. Olive pit charcoal requires a clay kettle because so that the fragrant smoke can filter into the water and improve the water quality. The olive pit charcoal is hard to light, and requires the small clay stove, and the olive pit charcoal is a perfect fit for such a small stove.

When one uses good water to infuse excellent tea, the tea will come out good, but not excellent. With a Chaozhou stove, kettle and olive pit charcoal good water can become excellent, therefore the tea will be excellent. Using olive pit charcoal heated water, the water will be infused with a faint fragrance, the flavour will be pure, and the tea liquor round, soft and smooth.





If one wishes improved results, one must start with high quality tools. If one wishes to enjoy the best gongfu cha, a Chazhou stove, kettle and olive pit charcoal are indispensible!

Footnotes
[1] 泥炉 ni2lu2 A clay stove used to boil the water for Chaozhou style gongfu cha
砂铫 sha1tiao3 The clay kettle used to boil water for Chaozhou style gongfu tea
橄榄炭 gan3lan3tan4 The Olive pit charcoal which is said to infuse the water with qualities which will improve the tea.

[2] The premodern prefecture of Chaozhou included the following places: The three cities 今潮州 modern Chao2zhou1、汕头 shan4tou2、揭阳 and Jieyang; the nine counties 潮安 Chaoan、饶平 Raoping、澄海 Chenghai、南澳 Nan'ao、潮阳 Chaoyang、惠来 Hui4lai2、普宁pu3ning2、揭西jie1xi1、揭东jie1dong; and stretched as far as 丰顺 feng1shun4、大埔da4po2 and 焦岭县 jiao3ling2 country.

[3] 宜兴紫砂壶
景德镇若琛杯
枫溪砂桃
潮阳红泥炉
潮阳颜家锡罐
潮安陈氏羽扇

[4] The title of the book the author of this piece here refers to is not provided.

[5] Hard to translate. Meaning is close, but does cannot preserve the subtlety of the original. 潮州工夫茶以 "精细"的工夫"收工夫茶之功",就是鲜明个性中的"特质。"

[6] This poem would be boring to most readers, excepting they are interested in chadao. I have chosen to translate the last two characters literally as "floating life." This refers to a sort of self cultivation which is not necessarily religious, but may be in part. The way I understand the floating life is that self cultivation is achieved through scholarly pursuits such as calligraphy, painting, poetry, and of course, tea. These practices taken up while living somewhat apart from common affairs of business, a reclusive existence, but likely in the midst of a city as not.  One of my favorite books is called "Six Chapters of a Floating life." Two of the chapters are missing, but it can be found in English translation. This book is nearly contemporary with this poem, perhaps earlier.

The poem, by 陈恭尹
白灶青铛子,潮州来者精。
洁宜居近坐,小亦利随行。
就隙邀风势,添泉战水声。
寻常饥渴外,多事养浮生。

The source cited in the article for the poem: 见《明末四百家遗民诗》卷六

[7] Some of the old names referred to in the above paragraphs and poems.
白灶 (bai2zao4)
风炉仔 (feng1lu4zai3) a popular name for the Chaozhou stove.
青铛 (qing1cheng1) an old word for 砂铫 (sha1tiao3), the clay kettle.
瓦档 (wa1dang3) an old word for 砂铫 (sha1tiao3), the clay kettle.
“茶锅仔” (cha2guo1zai3) a popular word for the clay kettle.
“薄锅仔” (bo2guo1zai3) a popular word for the clay kettle.
“玉书碨” (yu4shu1wei) an sophisticated, literary word for the kettle.
“风炉薄锅仔” "Feng4lu2 Bo2guo1zai3" An expression for a stove and kettle set.
罗浮 (luo2fu2) another name for the same poet, Chen Gongyin.
冇炭 extinguishing the charcoal. The pinyin is not necessary, as the first character is not used in 'Mandarin' Chinese. I have seen renditions of 'mou' and 'mao3.'

It would be fruitless to 'translate' the above terms into English, as they come from the local language of Chaozhou. As I am not familiar with the language or the culture of the area, a translation might even be counterproductive. Learning to pronounce these words in Mandarin Chinese may also be pointless as even Chaozhou people fluent in Mandarin may not recognize what you are referring to.
[8] Original poem by Qiu Fengjia
丘逢甲《潮州春思》之六
曲院春风啜茗天,竹炉榄炭手亲煎。
小砂壶瀹新鹪嘴,来试湖山处女泉。

红焙浅瓯新火活,龙团小碾斗晴窗

Re: chaozhou gong fu article / olive pit charcoal stoves (潮州工夫茶, 橄榄炭炉)

Thank you very much :D That was a lot of work! I will try to get to it in the next couple days, but I wanted to say thanks before then :)


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10 (edited by william 2008-12-30 21:09:04)

Re: chaozhou gong fu article / olive pit charcoal stoves (潮州工夫茶, 橄榄炭炉)

Thanks so much for translating this one... esp. since it's so long.

It's funny because rtea and I were talking about "冇". He says that character is also used to represent a word (different meaning too) in Hokkien / Taiwanese, pronounced something like 'pa' or 'pan' -- I believe the last character in the varietal discussed here: http://floatingleavestea.blogspot.com/2 … da-pa.html

see also:
http://www.google.com/search?q=+%22%E9% … p;oe=utf-8


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Re: chaozhou gong fu article / olive pit charcoal stoves (潮州工夫茶, 橄榄炭炉)

Does anyone know if ruòchēn bēi (若琛杯) refers to the size / shape of the cup, the quality, or is it a famous maker? I couldn't find too much online.

Also, while looking through a new book (Appreciation of Zisha Teapots, another MAI foundation book, http://www.paragonbook.com/html/browses … tem=30228, I read about another common item - "哥窑盤" (in traditional characters; pinyin: gē yáo pán), which is the cracked glaze tray (not sure if it refers to the cup tray or tea boat, but I'm guessing maybe the latter). They cite a Taiwanese historian, Lian Heng (which, from looking at the Chinese footnotes, I believe is 連橫, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lien_Heng), who apparently wrote a number of articles about the subject.

Also promising looking: Zeng Chunan ("曾楚楠"), Exploration on Chaozhou Congou [gong fu], Archeology of Agriculture -- Special issue on Chinese Tea Culture, Jianxi, 1993 P144. They cite other articles from this (by other authors) as well. If anyone's interested in doing more research or translating stuff, I will be happy to scan the footnotes for that section of the book for you (I believe it's mostly in traditional characters, as it's a HK publisher and MAI Foundation is a Taiwanese organization).

While searching for him, also found this interesting tidbit:
http://www.chinatoday.com.cn/English/e2 … 11/p58.htm
"The number of cups is always one less than the number of people at the tea table as it creates an opportunity for younger guests to show respect to their elders, or for the host to defer to his guests by waiting till they have finished before drinking a cup."


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Re: chaozhou gong fu article / olive pit charcoal stoves (潮州工夫茶, 橄榄炭炉)

william wrote:

Does anyone know if ruòchēn bēi (若琛杯) refers to the size / shape of the cup, the quality, or is it a famous maker? I couldn't find too much online.

I think it's a famous maker. I looked it up online too, and didn't find very much info.

william wrote:

Also promising looking: Zeng Chunan ("曾楚楠"), Exploration on Chaozhou Congou [gong fu], Archeology of Agriculture -- Special issue on Chinese Tea Culture, Jianxi, 1993 P144. They cite other articles from this (by other authors) as well. If anyone's interested in doing more research or translating stuff, I will be happy to scan the footnotes for that section of the book for you (I believe it's mostly in traditional characters, as it's a HK publisher and MAI Foundation is a Taiwanese organization).

Would you scan those footnotes and send me a copy? I'd love to see it.

红焙浅瓯新火活,龙团小碾斗晴窗

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Re: chaozhou gong fu article / olive pit charcoal stoves (潮州工夫茶, 橄榄炭炉)

william wrote:

Does anyone know if ruòchēn bēi (若琛杯) refers to the size / shape of the cup, the quality, or is it a famous maker? I couldn't find too much online.

Following up on my own post....
A footnote in the book I quoted above (Appreciation of Zisha Teapots) says:

(40) Lian Heng of Qing Dynasty said in his Collections of Yatang -- About Tea that "Ruochen, who lived his life in the forepart of Qing Dynasty in a temple in Jiangxi province, were[sic] good at pottery-making. Potteries[sic] made by him were pure white with light and hardy qualities, and could keep fragrance for quite a long time". Cited from Zhang Hongyong, 2002, P167.

So it's a person.

One of the other footnotes says that 「若琛」(ruòchēn) is the same as 「若深」(ruòshēn);(same tone, similar sound, similar looking character) the second spelling brings up some more search results.

Don't know if it's authentic, but did find this result:
http://www.mycollect.net/antiqueEstimat … 311-1.html

Re: chaozhou gong fu article / olive pit charcoal stoves (潮州工夫茶, 橄榄炭炉)

Hi there,
1. Li Ruochen 李若琛 (also Li Ruoshen 李若深) was a famous potter in Jing De Zhen 景德鎮 during the Qing dynasty. His was renown especially for the cups he made...
2. The 'Master Weng' 翁公 in footnote #4 refers to Weng Hui Dong 翁輝東 , who wrote the article "Chaozhou Chajing: Gongfu Cha" 《潮洲茶經:工夫茶》in 1957.
3. The article by lvyulin in Chashanren forum is incorrect on the point regarding Mr Liang Shiqiu 梁實秋 .  Contrary to what lvyulin claimed, Mr Liang was deeply knowledgeable in tea and chadao...

Just thought you might be interested.

Over & out...

得來無事閑工夫,坐看雲起笑紅塵

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Re: chaozhou gong fu article / olive pit charcoal stoves (潮州工夫茶, 橄榄炭炉)

Thanks so much for your comments about Weng Huidong and Liang Shiqiu. I just recently had a chance to read the "Chaozhou Chajing"

I was wondering if you could suggest some more good articles particularly about Chaozhou gongfu cha, Chaozhou tea culture in general, or gongfu cha in general. I am interested both in new articles and in the classics. Suggestions of famous books would also be appreciated.

houyu wrote:

3. The article by lvyulin in Chashanren forum is incorrect on the point regarding Mr Liang Shiqiu 梁實秋 .  Contrary to what lvyulin claimed, Mr Liang was deeply knowledgeable in tea and chadao...

I think that Ivyulin does not understand the essays of Mr. Liang. It seems that his comment was meant to be a joke. Thanks a lot for introducing me to this great writer.

红焙浅瓯新火活,龙团小碾斗晴窗

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16 (edited by the_e 2014-03-13 15:28:16)

Re: chaozhou gong fu article / olive pit charcoal stoves (潮州工夫茶, 橄榄炭炉)

Here's a pithy Chaozhou saying which I thought would be fitting here. Kudos to Kyarazen and Chrl42 of Teachat for sharing it there!

Jit Nang Deh Ki Sin, Nor Nang Deh Ki Un, Sar Nang Deh Ki Bi [Chaozhou Dialect Pronunciation]
一人得其神,两人得其韵,三人的其味  [Mandarin]
One gains spirit, two gains rhyme, three gains taste

Drinking in small numbers make for good experiences!

Re: chaozhou gong fu article / olive pit charcoal stoves (潮州工夫茶, 橄榄炭炉)

Thanks for sharing this discussion. It brings some more light on this part of our religious world. Great insight stimulates me to check more often for new write ups. I like how you cover a lot of topics in a short amount.Keep posting!

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