There is an old expression that I believe comes from the Celtic tradition, which is, “If you can make a proper cup of tea, you can do anything.” I subscribe to that belief.
Many years ago I had the pleasure of going to a hot tub in Santa Cruz that had a beautiful Zen Garden, and in the waiting room was The Book of Tea, by Okakura Kakuzo and Bruce Richardson (introduction) from 1906. Richardson says: “You will discover the fascinating character of Okakura Kakuzo and the story of how he came to write one of the 20th Century’s most influential books on art, beauty and simplicity all steeped in the world’s communal cup of tea.” This book was a wonderful discovery for me and the perfect preamble to our hot tub experience. Our attendant gave us an introduction to the space and took our tea order. The tea was graciously served and was a type of white tea I had never tasted. The pleasures of tea are infinite.
I love tea ceremonies. They combine mindful movement and contemplation with the simple enjoyment of tea. The grace and beauty expressed bring those qualities into our awareness and allow us the break from our logical mind. We can feel the expression of the Divine as each small part of the ceremony is a gift of higher consciousness.
I wanted to share a tea ceremony with you today and was surprised at how many videos there are on YouTube of Chinese, Korean and Japanese ceremonies. I wanted to share also, a tea shop in Monterey, CA, that gives special tea ceremonies.
Over the years I have loved creating my own tea ceremonies and enjoyed the variety of teas.
My friend took me to her Russian grandmother’s home. She served us black tea that had been simmering atop a silver samovar. The cups were artistic and golden. The tea was rich and strong and served with sweet cherry candies on the saucer. You popped one in your mouth before taking a sip of the black, smoked tea. That experience was 40 years ago, and I still remember the taste and fragrance of that wonderful tea.
I love the various colors of perfectly steeped teas. Amber, orange, dark brown, many shades of green and a hint of gold in white teas. The Japanese use a pale green in their tea cups to enhance the beautiful color.
That brings me to choosing the water for your tea. You might want to experiment with distilled, spring, filtered, oxygenated and tap water. The waters will produce a different color using the same tea. Chlorinated tap water is not recommended. I like to use my gem water and gratitude water.
As you contemplate joy in your communal cup of tea that quality just may waft through your neighbor’s window and put a smile on their face.