Tag Archives: tea

The Wonder, Love and Joy of Tea, Part 2

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.

Cover art for the book of Tea

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.

The Wonder, Love and Joy of Tea

Photo by Nina Wilkins

My tea journey started as a child with Lipton Orange Pekoe tea. My mom would give us tea with lemon and sugar when we were sick, and it was a comfort and help to ease us into wellness. It wasn’t until I was 14 that I discovered another tea, Constant Comment, a black tea with cloves and spices. That tea was a revelation. When I was 18, I discovered a new tea at a restaurant in Chinatown that I loved, though didn’t know what it was. I carried the teabag paper in my wallet for years looking for that tea. The paper was in Chinese and I didn’t discover that it was Jasmine tea until I was in my 20’s.

Jasmine tea was the best beverage I had ever tasted at that point, though later I would discover Darjeeling (the champagne of teas), Irish Breakfast and Earl Grey, a revelation of black tea with bergamot flavoring. Next was Mango Iced tea that was served at a restaurant. My mom and I searched and searched for it and found it at a small shop in San Clemente, California.

The universe loves to give us what we love.

My next unlikely experience with tea came when I was in my 30’s and attending San Francisco State University. I took a course in Asian Humanities focused on China in the Sung Dynasty. Tea’s birthplace is in ancient China. In 2732 BC, Emperor Shennong discovered tea when leaves rom a wild bush blew into his boiling pot of water. In this course we studied the poetry of Su Tung-po, and we read The Gay Genius: The Life and Times of Su Tungpo, by Lin Yutang. Su Tung-po lived from 1037-1101 and his wonderful poetry has survived. It contained hints of metaphysics and the love of nature. What I remember of him was his detailed writing about tea.

Tea ceremonies were almost a religion to Su Tung-po. He said that for a proper tea you needed 23 special utensils, and if you only had 22 not to invite a guest. He and his friends would travel to a river and choose to draw water from the right curve of the banks, where the water would be freshest. Then they would choose a fragrant wood for the fire. When the water boiled there would be deliberate movements for pouring the tea and contemplation. To this day I remember his joy in tea.

Enjoying your tea contemplation is a wonderful start to your Day and a worthy Bridge of Love Light.

To be continued next week…

Photo by Nina Wilkins