This is a part of a bigger blog post. I will publish the rest a bit later 🙂
Good tea leaves turned into a mundane experience
After tasting the tea the guy looked at me, politely said thank you and moved forward to other activities and to taste other teas. Actually the same thing happened with almost everyone who tasted the tea I was offering. The reaction was very mundane, basically like they had a cup of warm water with flavor. I was both disappointed and intrigued since this was a very good tea. Why didn’t it leave a strong impression?
This happened back in 2018 when I was asked to hold a tea tasting as a part of an event in Helsinki. There were a few tea and health presentations and some tea tastings. The event was in a conference room, there was a lot of activity, everyone could come and go as they wished and usually they had only one cup of tea.
So even though the tea was really good quality (Gentle Home, 2014 shou pu’er) and I brewed it well enough, nothing about the tasting experience was special. I’ve had this tea hundreds of times alone and public ceremonies and without exaggerating I must say that it’s a powerful one. In the right circumstances it will produce a strong meditative experience for anyone (~95% of the time).
The tasting event and my disappointment were not bad per se. I didn’t succeed showing how special this tea is (and tea in general) but it strengthened my understanding of which things need to be emphasized that tea can be experienced “fully”.
The next part of my tea trip in Helsinki was holding a tea ceremony in a basement of a cafe. The setting was calm, nice and there was lots of time. I chose to brew Cloud Hidden, a 2014 shou pu’er, which is similar quality than Gentle Home. This time everyone had a strong meditative experience where they felt very mindful and relaxed. One guest had only the first bowl and just sat completely still for around 45 minutes, just meditating.
So these two occasions strengthened my understanding that without a few important things the tea experience won’t be anything special.
Why is this relevant for you?
First by knowing the different aspects which support the ceremonial use of tea you can plan how to make a tea session more (or less) meditative for yourself and others.
Second you know in which things to concentrate on if you have challenges to make a tea ceremony daily (and would like to).
The five (+1) ways to make your tea more meditative
- Have enough time for the tea session (45-60min)
- Have a clean and nice place
- Don’t talk
- Focus on the tea and your experience (+ don’t force anything)
- Drink many cups or bowls of tea
- Bonus: Choose an organic and high quality tea
I will go through them more in detail in the upcoming parts. These results are merely reflections from my daily tea meditations and public ceremonies from the past five years. Trying to find scientific reasoning for them would be largely a waste of energy (at least for me).
The challenge is that there are infinite amount of things you can concentrate on improving your tea. The good thing is there are only a few of the basics which are really impactful compared to the rest. And also a nice thing is that the improvements don’t require purchasing anything or learning new “brewing tricks”.
What do you think? Did I leave something important out? If you had to choose only five things which you emphasize in preparing for a tea meditation what would they be? Have you had experiences where in different circumstances the same tea leaves were mundane or very special? Let me know in the comments.