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Experience Chinese tea culture in Lahaina

By Staff | Sep 5, 2019

Dr. Busaba Yip gives her presentation on the history of the Chinese Moon Festival in 2018.

LAHAINA – Tea is the most consumed drink in the world, but how did it get that way? Tea traces its roots to ancient China and has since spread across the globe.

Tea culture in China has been observed for thousands of years. Learn more about the significance of tea and experience a Chinese tea garden at the Chinese Moon Festival at the Wo Hing Museum, 858 Front St., on Saturday, Sept. 14, from 4 to 8 p.m.

Tea is indigenous to China and grows wild on steep mountain slopes. The Chinese began to cultivate tea plants in the Sichuan Province as early as 350 AD.

In 760 AD, the first known writing on tea preparation, “The Classic of Tea” by Lu Yu, was written. The Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) saw the popularity of tea drinking expand in China and spread to Korea, Japan and Vietnam.

All variations of tea from green to black are from the same plant, just processed in different ways. Black tea is created through oxidation, evaporating water out of the leaves and allowing them to absorb oxygen from the air. Green tea, on the other hand, is oxidized only slightly before being rapidly heated to stop the process.

China began to export tea to Britain in 1667, popularized by Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II. The British demand for tea became so high that Charles II put an import tax of over 100 percent on tea, leading to a large tea smuggling market.

Today, tea remains the most popular beverage in the world.

Chinese tea ceremonies have been observed in many forms since the discovery of tea thousands of years ago. The traditional ceremonies incorporate the philosophies of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.

Peace and calm are important aspects of the tea ceremony, allowing participants to thoroughly enjoy their experience.

On Sept. 14 from 4 to 8 p.m., come to the Chinese Moon Festival to experience a Chinese tea garden, with tea and mooncakes for sale. Learn about the significance of the Chinese Moon Festival and Tea Culture with a presentation by Dr. Busaba Yip, cultural director for the Wo Hing Museum.

She will be joined by Fawn Shang, a Chinese tea practitioner from Honolulu. The presentation will be held at 1 and again at 5 p.m. in the Cookhouse Theater on Saturday. After the presentation, attendees can sample a mini-tasting of Taiwanese mooncakes donated by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Honolulu.

Also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Chinese Moon Festival is a favorite time for family and friends to come together under a full moon during the harvest.

Mooncakes are often given as gifts and shared with loved ones. Offerings of mooncakes and other food are traditionally left for Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess.

“We are so pleased to honor Lahaina’s Chinese heritage and invite everyone to come down to Front Street and take part in the Moon Festival,” said Theo Morrison, executive director of Lahaina Restoration Foundation.

The Wo Hing Museum and Cookhouse at 858 Front St. will offer free admission from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, Sept. 9-13, and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14.

The Chinese Moon Festival is sponsored by Hawaii Tourism Authority, County of Maui Office of Economic Development and Wo Hing Society. Lahaina Restoration Foundation would also like to extend a special mahalo to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Honolulu for a donation of mooncakes.

Contact Lahaina Restoration Foundation at (808) 661-3262, e-mail info@lahainarestoration.org or visit www.lahainarestoration.org for information on historic sites and upcoming events.