Chapter 261 The Aroma Over Wilderness
The tea ceremony was the first game of cultural exchange between the two sides. Both sides sent their best members in order to get a good start.
Yagyuu Ai and Hua Mingrui tried their best as soon as they entered the court. They prepared the teaware, warmed the pot, cured the tea, placed it, poured water, shook the pot and poured the tea. Both of their procedures went quite smoothly, which showed their extraordinary talent in the tea ceremony.
Gao Fengwen, who was sitting on the spectator seats, couldn’t stop nodding and praising them. “Impressive! Impressive!”
Qin Haodong said, “Is Mr. Gao good at the tea ceremony, too?”
“I wouldn’t say that I’m good at it, but I do enjoy making my own tea in my spare time, so I know a little about it.” Gao Fengwen broke the ice and added, “Generally, the tea ceremony in Huaxia is categorized into three realms. The first realm is pretty and aromatic, but I’m able to do it if I try. It demands a certain quality of color and aroma. The drinker should be satisfied visually.
The tea ceremony might look simple, but it demands deep understanding and knowledge of the tea leaves, the amount of water, and the state of the teaware. It takes one years of hard work to master it.”
Qin Haodong nodded slightly. Tea was titled “King of All Herbs” and “Essence of All Trees”. Nobody knew the tea ceremony better than he did, as he was Emperor Green Wood. However, he had made achievements in the cultivation world, so he knew a little about the realms of the tea ceremony on Earth.
Gao Fengwen, who did not know that he was facing a tea ceremony master, added, “The second realm, which is called Back to the Original Simplicity, is the realm that the two people on the stage have stepped in.
Back to the Original Simplicity means that the performer no longer shows off his or her skills while making the tea. Instead, they try to integrate the skills into their souls and activate the essential aroma of the tea. That was how the purest aromatic tea was made.
Impressive. They are so young, yet they’ve already reached the second realm. That can’t be achieved without more than ten years of hard work and a great gift.”
Qin Haodong asked, “Then who do you think will win, Mr. Gao?”
Gao Fengwen said, “I don’t like Nihon, but I have to say that the Nihon woman has shown quite a quality during the tea ceremony. She is in the second realm, just like the Tea Fairy. That is too close to call, so I’d say it will be a draw.
If anyone reaches the third realm or gets a step away from it, victory will be assured!”
Qin Haodong asked, “Mr. Gao, what’s the third realm of the tea ceremony then?”
“As far as I know, the third realm, which is the highest realm, is called ‘the Aroma Over the Wilderness’. The name pretty much explains itself that those who have reached this realm can make tea with an aroma that spreads all over the wilderness. This aroma will stay for a long time. Well, at least that’s what the legend says. An aroma spreading thousands of meters away might be an exaggeration, but surely it will spread further than the aroma made by the people in the second realm.”
While the two of them were talking, the tea on the stage was made and poured into ten numbered cups. All of them would be distributed to the ten judges in the audience seats.
The ten judges had been selected because they were all tea ceremony experts. They picked up the cups and degustated the tea. Then, they nodded and shook their heads. Finally, they wrote down the number they had chosen.
Soon, the results came out. Hua Mingrui and Yagyuu Ai got five votes respectively. That was the draw Gao Fengwen had expected. The two proud women might find the result hard to accept, but they had to because they had no other options.
Qian Duoduo went back on the stage again and asked the Nihon delegation, “Any other players from you?”
Yagyuu Hirai shook his head, which was a positive sign. It didn’t matter if Yagyuu Ai won or lost. She had already shown the highest level of the Nihon Tea Ceremony, and no other people in the deligation could do that.
They found the result totally acceptable, as the tea ceremony had originated in Huaxia and only been introduced to Nihon. This draw was already a shame for Huaxia.
Qian Duoduo looked at Gao Fengwen and asked, “Mr. Gao, anyone else who wants to challenge Miss Yagyuu Ai?”
Gao Fengwen sighed to himself. After all, they had shamed Huaxia. However, no one else could do anything about it if the Tea Fairy couldn’t either.
He was about to tell him that there were no other challengers, when Qin Haodong said, “Mr. Gao, I’ll have a try.”
“Are you sure?” Gao Fengwen asked in surprise.
Qin Haodong had already impressed him with his medical skills and antique searching. The man was really young, so it was hard to imagine that he would also be good at performing the tea ceremony.
Qin Haodong smiled and said, “Yes. There’s no harm in trying. Maybe I’ll win!”
When he saw that the guy was so confident, Gao Fengwen said, “Fine then. Dr. Qin can have a try if he’s interested.”
Soon after Qin Haodong stood up, Lang Sanyuan, who had been sitting beside him, said disdainfully, “You’re very confident, aren’t you? You seize every opportunity to show off. What can you do now that the Tea Fairy has failed? You’re definitely going to embarrass our country.”
Qin Haodong didn’t even look at Yuan Sanlang. He went straight to the stage. He had nothing to say to that mean, small-minded guy. He would make him regret what he had said later.
“Miss Hua, I want a chance to admire Miss Yagyuu Ai’s tea ceremony skills. May I?”
Hua Mingrui gave her spot to Qin Haodong and looked at him with a mixed expression. She was quite proud of her tea ceremony skills. However, if she couldn’t beat this opponent, she wondered why the young man was so confident.
Qin Haodong’s challenge surprised everybody. The second round then started. The staff replaced all the teaware that had been used by Hua Mingrui and Yagyuu Ai and brought two new sets for the two contestants.
Yagyuu Ai looked askance at Qin Haodong and said coquettishly, “Are you sure you can do this, handsome? I highly doubt it. You’re like an embroidered pillow, beautiful but useless.”
Her pun was quite flattering.
Qin Haodong smiled and said, “You won’t know until you try it.”
As soon as he said that, he picked up the teaware on the table and started to perform.
Distain flashed in Yagyuu Ai’s eyes. Unlike Hua Mingrui, Qin Haodong’s moves were really rough and graceless. He acted like an ordinary person making tea at home. Apparently, the guy was an amateur.
Some people sighed, especially the spectators down the stage, who were sorry for the earlier draw. They had been hopeful upon seeing another challenger go on stage, but they felt desperate when they didn’t see anything masterful in the young man.
Qin Haodong ignored the other people’s expressions and continued to make his tea.
As time went by, Yagyuu Ai made another pot of tea and Qin Haodong finished all the previous procedures. The difference was that light aroma was emanating from Yagyuu Ai’s teapot, while Qin Haodong’s pot was giving out nothing at all.
Yagyuu Ai said disdainfully, “Handsome, do we really have to go on? Shall we spare the judges this extra work?”
Qin Haodong looked at her and smiled. “I feel the same way. We don’t need to bother the judges anymore.”
Lang Sanyuan said sarcastically, “Shame! That’s a shame! Even my nanny could do better than him! Why did he even go there?”
Both Gao Fengwen’s and Guo Feng’s facial expressions changed. However, the truth was right there. They had nothing to say.
Just as everyone thought that Qin Haodong was going to yield, he picked up the teapot in front of him and slowly poured out some golden liquid into the teacup. It flowed like a mountain stream and gurgled when it hit the cup. It looked like playing an instrument.
At the same time, a strong aroma was exuded by the tea. The aroma moved down from the stage. Soon, it filled the place, which accommodated thousands of people, and filled up their noses.
Gao Wenfeng’s expression changed drastically when he smelled the aroma. His disappointment was suddenly gone. It had been replaced by bliss on his face.
“Aroma over the Wilderness! Gosh! That’s the third realm! Aroma over the Wilderness!”
Hua Mingrui, who hadn’t gotten off the stage, was standing beside Qin Haodong. She was really astonished because, even though she had been working hard on the tea ceremony for many years, the third realm called the Aroma over the Wilderness had always remained a dream that was too hard for her to reach.
Thus, she was really stunned that someone else was doing that today. The young man in front of her had made it very casually.
Yagyuu Ai’s proud face now turned as pale as ashes. She had been dedicated to the tea ceremony for so many years, so she surely knew what the Aroma over Wilderness meant. That was even beyond her teacher’s reach.
She had lost completely!
Qin Haodong looked at Yagyuu Ai and said cheekily, “Miss Yagyuu, you said we can spare the judges this extra work. So are you going to yield now?”
Yagyuu Ai bit her lips. As much as she hated to admit it, she forced the words out of her mouth and said, “I yield.”
She was at the second realm of the tea ceremony, and Qin Haodong was at the third. The audience would laugh their teeth off if she insisted on asking for the opinion of the judges. She would be really ashamed if she got zero points and Qin Haodong got 10. Thus, she yielded directly.
When the Nihon people yielded, applause thundered all over the place.
Yagyuu Hirai’s expression changed a lot. They had ended up in a draw with Huaxia, but she had been defeated in the blink of an eye in quite an embarrassing way.
Qin Haodong stood up and clasped his hands to salute the excited audience,. Then he turned back and walked off the stage. He glanced at Lang Sanyuan when he got back to his seat.
Lang Sanyuan had called Qin Haodong shameles and “worse at the tea ceremony than his nanny”. Now, he had been slapped on the face hard. He bent over and put his head on his own thigh, feeling afraid to look at Qin Haodong.
The first game ended, and the second one started.
Chiba Mieko from Nihon went on the stage and told the audience, “In the second game, we’d like to see the appraising ability of Huaxia antique experts. Some of the antiques are real, while some are not. Or maybe, all of them are fake. We’ll lose if the experts sort all of them out.”
Qian Duoduo asked, “Miss Chiba, why would I trust your judgment?”
Chiba Mieko said, “We’ll keep the answer in a box and hand it to you. That way, we will guarantee fairness.”
“Very well! That’s a good idea.”
Qian Duoduo nodded and said that the answer should be written out in advance so that the Nihon people wouldn’t deny it. The Nihon people were not that trustworthy, for the nation had been denying the crimes it had committed in World War II.
Guo Fen from the Huaxia team whispered to Qin Haodong, “Dude, I’ll go over and check. I’ll have you pick it up for me if I fail.”
Then, he strode onto the stage. Qian Duoduo told Chiba Mieko, “Miss Chiba, President Guo is on the stage. Please present us with your antiques.”
Chiba Mieko waved her hand at the audience. Two Nihon people walked on the stage with two ancient tubes in their hands.
Chiba Mieko handed the wooden box with the answers to Qian Duoduo. Then, she opened the tubes, took out two scrolls, and spread them on the desk.
At the same time, the projector showed the pictures on the large screens. All the spectators below the stage saw them clearly.
On the two pictures was an ancient poem that said, “Better to study, no matter how late it is, in the candlelight or when the roosters are crowing; better to study when your hair’s still black, or the regrets will multiply once it turns grey.” The poem, which was called Better to Study, was written in cursive handwriting. The handwriting looked quite spirited. At the end was the writer’s name. The poem had been written by the greatest calligrapher of all time, Yan Zhenqing.