Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tea

"Just a moment, " Yao says. 
He asks us all to sit down again, distributes the mugs, and places the teapot in the center of the table. 
"When I lived in Japan, I learned the beauty of simple things. And the simplest and most sophisticated thing I experienced was drinking tea. I got up just now in order to repeat the experience and to explain that despite all our conflicts, all our difficulties, all our meanness and generosity, we can still love the simple things in life. The samurai used to leave their swords outside before going into a house, sitting down in the correct posture, and taking part in an elaborate tea ceremony. During that time, they could forget all about war and devote themselves to worshiping beauty. Let's do that now."
He fills each mug with tea. We wait in Silence. 
"I went to fetch the tea because I saw two samurai ready to do battle, but when I returned, the honorable warriors had been replaced by two souls who understood each other with no need for soothing tea. Let us drink together anyway. Let us concentrate all our efforts on achieving Perfection through the imperfect gestures of everyday life. True wisdom means respecting the simple things we do, for they can take us where we need to go."
We respectfully drink the tea that Yao has poured for us. Now that I have been forgiven, I can savor the taste of the young leaves before they were picked by calloused hands, dried, and made into a drink that creates harmony all around. None of us is in a hurry; as we travel on, we are constantly destroying and rebuilding ourselves and who we are. 

Excerpt taken "Aleph" by Paulo Coelho


photo by Jacki Harp- me with friends and family chillin'
Dear friends of ours gave us a new tea kettle. It is big , red and holds double the amount of water that our old kettle could. This matters to me because I generally drink green tea so much that having more hot water makes a big difference in convenience. Lately, I have been pouring my hot water from the kettle into my Claire Pot (that is literally the name of my tea pot, I am not that conceded) and I've been annoyed to realize that hot water has been leaking all over the place. It has only been after a close examination of the kettle that I have come to the conclusion that nothing is wrong with it. The leaking is actually a problem with the pourer not the vessel. 

How poignant! I am the reason the water has puddled all over my counters and coffee tables. The reason why my pot seems to leak is because I am pouring the water too fast at too great of an angle. Here is this incredible practice, "Tea Time", where time slows down, peace is laid on the table, and people partake in an ancient practice of communion together. However, here I am getting frustrated with an additional 20 seconds  it takes to fill my tea pot with hot water without spilling it. 

Coelho is right. The practice of drinking tea is meant to soothe and restore. The purpose is to rebuild and
This is me, resting, slowing down...ready for tea.
reconnect people to internal and external peace. I believe this and partake in it as often as possible. 

Narrowly escaping burns and drenching my mail is an important reminder that the gift of this discipline is in actually slowing down. It takes time for tea to steep. It takes time for those magical tea blossoms to bloom. It takes time to sit down for a spot of British tea or a tea ceremony. The gift of drinking tea surely is in the daily practice of allowing yourself to slow down and be soothed. Drinking teas (like green tea) daily is a healthy life choice but I imagine that the benefits of drinking green tea are even greater when you drink it as God intended...slowly.

Shall I pass you a mug?


From time to time, I like to order our green tea from Vital Leaf Tea. We did a tea tasting in San Francisco at one of their shops. The owner goes to China every year to pick our the teas he will sell. He makes sure it is the finest quality and that the workers are treated fairly. For what it's worth, their Angel Green tea is incredible. It is the best green tea I have ever tasted and I really do believe it does what it claims and detoxes my system.  One bag lasts us about 8 months. It goes a long way and saves us money on individually wrapped packages and bags. Less waste, less money, better tea.