Modern, Daily Tea Ritual

by Jason on June 27, 2013

in how to, Member Content

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What would a “modern” tea ritual look like?

I asked myself: “Looking back at all the tea rituals across cultures and times, what do they offer to contemporary life?”

Tea consists of 3 elements that teach us about our daily living:

  • Water‘s fluidity reminds us of the constant, sometimes turbulent 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.

How to build a tea ritual into modern life:

1. Prepare your vessel (cup and/or pot), and remind yourself that: “The cup is useful to the extent that it is empty.

2. 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.

3. Pour your water. Say: “One chance, one moment.”

4. Slurp and swirl the tea, taking time become fully aware of the characteristics of the tea in your mouth.

5. After a drink, humm or say: Aaayyyyy, Eeeeee, or Oooohhhh. These tones, along with the theanine in the tea, help to elevate your brain’s concentration and awareness.

6. Finally, explore the question: What changes am I/you/we facing at this moment? How am I/you/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.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex Zorach / February 18, 2010 at 18:16

I really like how you approached this, by looking at different rituals in order to figure out what the deeper purpose and common meaning of these rituals is…not that they all have the same purpose or meaning (and of course it varies from person to person) but I think your observations are insightful.

I think our fast-paced society often shuts out these sort of spiritual issues that this tea ritual gets at: awareness of surroundings, quality connections with others, and a focus on the moment.

I’ve always thought that the benefits of tea go far beyond the actual tea itself…while the tea is important, it’s the process of drinking it that is more so, and this post communicates that beautifully. It somehow gets you to stop, in a good way. =)

Jason February 23, 2010 at 00:11

Alex- I’d like to hear about your personal tea ritual one day.

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