The Sound of Silence is Harmony


Sharing tea in silence seems disquieting at first, accustomed as we are in the West to chatting, but to witness a Wu-Wo Ceremony is moving.

Friday after the show floor emptied 90 participants shared their favorite tea with a group of fellow tea lovers in a variety of styles while spectators quietly watched.

The Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony, which originates in Taiwan, encourages all people regardless of tea expertise, age, sex, nationality, or wealth to simply share a tea of their own making.

Participants were seated in long rows on a carpet at the back of the hall and engaged in the task of preparing tea, while simultaneously receiving tea ? in silence. Spectators quietly observed.

Organizers explained ‘that through this humble exchange that the acts of both giving and accepting merge into one, reminding us that distinctions can never fully define anything. Tea is the catalyst. The beauty of the ceremony lies not only in its intent but also in its practice.”
Seating was random. No one knew beforehand who was to receive their tea or whose tea they would receive. The basic rules are simple. Tea is made four times in four servings each time.

  • First brew, tea is poured into four cups and served to the adjacent three neighbors on the left (participants reserve the last cup to enjoy for themselves). Participants then receive three cups of tea served from the adjacent three neighbors on their right.
  • The second brew is poured into four spectator cups and served to four spectators. Participants then return and fill their own cup if any tea is left.
  • With a third brew participants take the tea pitcher and serve the same three tea brewers on the left.
  • In the final brew participants take the tea pitcher and serve any four spectators that do not have tea.

The Lu-Yu Tea Culture Institute has promoted the ceremony since 1991. It is named for Lu Yu, the 8th-century "sage of tea.” It is now an international organization under the direction of Grand Master Tsai, Rong Tsang and Tea Arts Master Instructor Steven R. Jones.