古人真会玩系列之二 – 宋代“咖啡”拉花 Ancient Chinese Pastimes 2: Song Dynasty ‘Latte’ Art

街头开了一家新的咖啡馆,要不要过去坐坐?

There’s a new cafe in town. Let us check it out!

你大步走过去,打开玻璃门,迎面而来的不是咖啡香,却是谈谈的茶香。“咦?”你望向吧台后的小哥哥。他穿着一件交领短衫,头上围着一条头巾,一看不像现代人的样子。

The cafe, rather peculiarly, is filled with the aroma of tea leaves instead of freshly brewed coffee. But that’s not all – the barista – with his crossed-lapel shirt and headscarf, looks as though he hails from another time and place.

你又把目光往店里一瞄,只见两位身穿褙子,头梳高髻的女子有说有笑地往座位走去。

You approach the counter as two whispering women brush past you. They are dressed in loose jackets and long pleated skirts, while their updos were adorned with flowers and accessories.

“你们是宋代穿越过来的吗?”略懂传统服饰的你,一脸哑然。

“Are you time-travellers from the Song dynasty?” You ask, recognising the time period of their garments.

“也许是,又或许,我们只是爱好宋代文化的现代人呢。”茶师小哥哥神秘地说。只见他手握茶匙,拨弄着盏里的茶汤。 他手法娴熟,不经一会儿功夫,乳白色的茶沫上出现了一只小鸟的图样。

“Perhaps we are. Or perhaps, we are just historical re-enactors obsessed with Song dynasty culture.” The barista, or rather, tea master is deliberately vague. He whips a cup of tea with a deft hand. The foam settles; the likeness of a bird emerges.

“好漂亮呀!”你惊叹。爱喝咖啡的你,习惯了咖啡师们在拿铁上用牛奶拉出的花样。只是,你却未曾想过,宋代人早就已经会在茶上“拉花”。

“That is wonderful!” You gasp. You have always thought of latte art as a modern fad. But tea! The people of the Song Dynasty were really a creative bunch!

“这算什么。你知道吗,五代时有个福全和尚,可厉害了!他能在一碗茶上写一句诗,四碗茶就是一首四言绝句了! [1])对了,这位客官,我们店里今天进了新货,惊蛰时节采摘的福建建安好茶,要不尝尝?”

“This is nothing. There was a certain Buddhist Master Fu Quan of the Five Dynasties who was able to shape tea foam into lines of poetry. People flocked to his temple just to see him. By the way, we have a new batch of tea from Jian-an, Fujian, picked during the ‘jingzhe’ season (March). Would you like to try it?”

你点点头。茶师拿出一个铜板大的小茶饼,用砧椎砸碎,再用茶碾迅速地研磨成粉。接着,他用筛子把茶叶细细筛过几遍,才将茶粉舀入用开水烫过的茶盏中。You nod. The tea master retrieves a block of tea no bigger than a Chinese copper coin, and crushes it with a rolling pin, before grinding it into fine powder. Then, he sieves the tea powder several times until the consistency is even. Only then does he scoops the tea powder into a warmed cup.

光是准备工作,已如此繁琐。习惯了随手将茶叶包扔进杯子的你,却意外地享受这个过程。 你回过神来,只见茶师已将茶粉和少许水分调成膏状。他再次提起执壶,一点一点地将开水注入茶盏中,一边用一个小刷子快速搅动,只见绿色的茶汤中渐渐泛起乳白色的泡沫,煞是好看。

The preparation process is already time-consuming. Nevertheless, you enjoy the novelty of the whole thing, even if tea bags will always be your first choice for convenience.

You emerge from your thoughts to see the tea master mixing the power with a little water to achieve a paste-like consistency. Once again, he lifts the kettle and pours water bit by bit into the teacup while whisking it with a brush. A layer of white foam began to form above the green liquid.

“这是什么?” 你指着“刷子”问。“这是茶筅。”茶师解释。“这注水和击拂要来回七次,每次力度和方式都要看着情况变化,不可过于大力或无力,否则这茶汤上的泡沫不能持久,一下子就散开了。” [2]

“What is this?” you point at the ‘brush’.”That is a tea-whisk” The tea master explains. “This process of whisking and adding hot water has to be repeated seven times. The tea has to be whisked with varying force, depending on the situation. If the force isn’t right, the foam will thin out after a while.”

茶师放下茶筅,指着茶盏,“您细瞧”。只见茶汤上覆着一层厚厚的,像云朵般酥软的乳白泡沫,泡沫和茶汤形成的脉络,呈现出一副山水图。[3]

Putting aside his whisk, the tea master points at the teacup, “You see.” A fluffy and thick layer of foam sits on the surface of the tea. The foam parted at places to reveal the green liquid underneath. Together, they looked just like a landscape painting.

你啧啧称奇,真是意想不到,宋人居然有这样的巧思妙想,早在一千年前就将喝茶这件事玩得出神入化了。“客官想不想叫点吃食呢?”茶师将茶盏放置在你的面前。“我们店里有包子、重阳糕、丰糖糕、生淹水木瓜、酥油鲍螺…”

You marvel at the tea master’s handiwork. The Song dynasty tea masters were such a creative bunch!”Would you like some snacks to go with your tea?” The tea master asks. “We have steamed buns, glazed papaya, spiral-shaped pastries…”

“不了,我品这一碗茶就好了。” 你付了钱,找了个靠窗的角落坐下。细细啜饮,顿时茶香满溢,苦涩中带着泡沫般的轻盈,一时神清气爽。你眯着眼睛,倚靠在软垫上,午后一点斜阳正从落地窗透进,时间似乎在那刹那间,静止了。

“No thanks, I will just enjoy my cup of tea.” You pay the tea master and look for a nice sunny spot next to a window. You close your eyes slightly and take a sip. At once, the invigorating smell of tea lifts your spirits. You let your lids drop as you lounge on the couch, enjoying your moment of stillness.

恍惚中,你突然想起,刚才忘记拍照发朋友圈了。“临风一啜心自省,此意莫与他人传” [4] 脑海中忽然飘出这句话。

It was then when you realised — you forgot to post on social media.

你释怀了。不分享也罢 — 毕竟这盏茶的滋味,这慵懒的时光,只属于自己,无法言传。

It didn’t matter anyway. There are moments in life that can could not be shared in entirety. It belonged only to yourself, to be experienced and to be lived out fully, in this present moment.

[1]:《清异录》

[2]: 宋徽宗 《大观茶论》

[3]: 《荈茗录》

[4]: (元)洪希文《煮土茶歌》

#古人真会玩#宋代分茶#ancientpastimes#digitalart

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