I’ve been giving thought lately to the idea of a “modern” tea ceremony.
I asked myself: “Looking back at all the tea rituals across cultures and times, what do they offer to contemporary life?”
Here is what I gleaned.
- Water‘s fluidity reminds us of the constant changes we face
- Leaf represents life, and the community of life (people, nature) around us
- A Vessel (cup or teapot) reminds us of that spiritual principle that part of us must be emptied so that we may be filled with something better.
For centuries, monks, priests, and common folk have used these tea elements as tools for:
- improved focus and concentration
- increased awareness of themselves and their surroundings
- a means of better connecting with others
- a reminder of Ichigo, Ichie, the principle of one chance, one moment. Never again will that exact combination of tea, environment, and people (i.e. their perceptions) meet in precisely the same way. Savor the moment, and be intentional with it.
- Prepare your Vessel (cup and/or pot). Say to yourself or aloud: “The cup is useful to the extent that it is empty.“
- Add your Leaf to the cup or pot. Put your nose into the Vessel and take 3 slow,deep smells. Exhale fully through the mouth.
- Pour your water. Say: “Ichi-go, Ichi-e. One chance, one moment.”
- Slurp and swirl the tea in your mouth, taking time to fully taste the tea.
- After a drink, humm or say: Aaayyyyy, Eeeeee, Oooohhhh. These tones, along with the theanine in the tea, help to elevate your brain’s concentration and awareness.
- Finally, ask yourself or others: “What changes am I (or you, or we) facing at this moment? How am I (or you or we) responding to those changes?“
As with wine in Christian Communion, it is not the tea itself that is the main spirit strengthener. It is the use of tea within a spiritual discipline that enables tea to shape our souls.
Walker Tea Review- a tea blog with tea reviews and tea tastings. Operated by Jason Walker.