The two Oolong cups: Man and Woman – Creativity on the answer

When I lived in China was fascinated with the beauty of the tea cups, particularly the Oolong cups. Tiny, elegant and nicely crafted. The typical setup is one tall cup and one small cup in a little tray. I was always asking to my Chinese friend: why the two cups? why the two cups? My friend would not answer me. After going to more tea shops my friend one day said: the tall cup is for the man and the short cup for the woman. OK, interesting story.

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Two Oolong cups: on the left the drinking cup and on the right the scent cup. Both are in a small ceramic tray.

Later I was able to go to a tea shop in Macau and had the Oolong Gongfu tea ceremony, where I learned that the tall cup is the scent (or sniffing) cup and the small cup is the drinking cup. With time I understood that my Chinese friend didn’t want to loose face by saying “I don’t know” and used his creativity to give an answer. It is like saying: “a wrong answer is better than no answer”.

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On the left the scent cup is filled with tea. The drinking cup is put on the top of the sniffing cup and inverted (picture on the right).

Now the scent cup is removed from the drinking cup (left) and we can sniff the cup to enjoy the tea aroma. On the right the drinking cup is full of tea to be appreciated. Enjoy the tea!

Now the scent cup is removed from the drinking cup (left) and we can sniff the cup to enjoy the tea aroma. On the right the drinking cup is full of tea to be appreciated. Enjoy the tea!

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