Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 17.COM 7.B.2

The Committee

  1. Takes note that China has nominated Traditional tea processing techniques and associated social practices in China (No. 01884) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

China's traditional tea processing techniques and associated social practices entail the knowledge, skills and practices around tea plantation management, tea-leaf picking, manual processing, drinking and sharing. Based on natural conditions and local customs, tea producers have developed six categories of tea: green, yellow, dark, white, oolong and black teas. When added to reprocessed teas, such as flower-scented teas, the result is over 2,000 tea products with a variety of colours, aromas, flavours and shapes. Tea is ubiquitous in the Chinese people's daily life and is served steeped or boiled in homes, workplaces, tea houses, restaurants and temples. It is an important part of socialization and of ceremonies such as weddings and sacrifices. The practice of greeting guests and building relationships within families and among neighbours through tea-related activities is common to multiple ethnic groups, providing a sense of shared identity and continuity for the communities. The knowledge, skills and traditions are passed on through families and apprenticeships, and the bearers include tea producers, farmers and artists, as well as those who make the pastries that are typically served with tea.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   Traditional tea processing techniques and associated social practices in China consist of the knowledge, skills, and social practices concerning the management of tea plantations, picking of tea leaves, manual processing, drinking and sharing of tea. The file explains the skills of tea processing and the intangible aspects of the element, including values of modesty, harmony, comity and respect, as well as the benefits to the human body and mind. The element is part of the people's everyday life as well as of festive events and rituals. The bearers are tea producers, farmers, artists, pastry makers and hobbyists. It is widely practiced by the general public, regardless of gender, occupation, ethnicity and beliefs. The main approaches for the transmission of the element are clan-based and community-based transmission, master-apprentice transmission and formal education. The element provides sustainable livelihoods for community members, including women and people with disabilities. It allows people to bond, and is compatible with existing international human rights instruments.

R.2:   At the local level, the inscription of the element will raise awareness of intangible cultural heritage among the general public, especially among younger generations. It will encourage stakeholders to recognise the importance of intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development. At the national level, inscription will facilitate the sharing of heritage among different regions and ethnic groups. At the international level, it will highlight the important role that intangible cultural heritage plays in providing sustainable livelihoods and advancing gender equality and rural development. The inscription will foster dialogue and communication among communities on safeguarding responsibilities through capacity building and participation in tea management practices. Communities, groups and individuals will be encouraged to share their expertise on the element and develop other cultural expressions associated with the element.

R.3:   The nomination file explains that the working group, with wide participation of the communities, groups and individuals concerned, formulated a five-year safeguarding plan (2021-2025) and established a mechanism of monitoring and risk-management. The plan includes measures to strengthen transmission, improve documentation and research efforts, and promote greater public awareness of the element. There are also efforts to conserve the environment and tangible heritage associated with the element, such as the protection of the environment and conservation of related spaces such as ancient tea plantations, springs, temples and villages. Specific targets of the proposed safeguarding plan were included in the file (e.g., ten training workshops and 3,000 graduates for tea production, appraisal and art). There is also a plan to ensure efficient management and sustainable use of resources. Furthermore, the file provides information on the involvement of the communities, groups and individuals in the planning and implementation of the proposed safeguarding measures.

R.4:   The file provides information about the community's participation in the nomination process, which began in 2007 through a nationwide call for proposals for nominations. Communities from Fujian and other provinces originally expressed their intention for the nomination. Social media was utilised to encourage exchange and dialogue between communities. Starting in 2015, discussions on the safeguarding and transmission of traditional tea processing techniques and associated social practices were carried out and a broader consensus on the nomination was gradually reached. The working group for the preparation of the nomination included communities by interviewing bearers, conducting field surveys, collecting data, holding meetings to obtain the consent of communities, and facilitating open discussions on the planning and implementation of safeguarding measures. The file included a set of free, prior and informed consent letters from bearers, practitioners, associations, research institutes, safeguarding centres and schools, which included their opinions and aspirations to safeguard the element. There are no restrictions associated with the element and it is available to all communities, ethnicities and religions.

R.5:   The element is listed on the National List of Representative Elements of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The inventory is maintained by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. From September 2005 to March 2021, with support from academic institutions, the element was identified and defined, and its communities, groups and individuals concerned recognised. The communities have actively participated in drawing up and updating the national inventory. They have also participated in the identification and definition of the element, as well as the inventorying process. The inventory is updated in cycles of two to three years.

  1. Decides to inscribe Traditional tea processing techniques and associated social practices in China on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Encourages the State Party to pay attention to the potential risk of over-commercialization of the element and to ensure that any commercialization efforts and unintended consequences are monitored and well-managed following the inscription of the element.