Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wednesday's Tea

The Way of Tea is not merely an art or accomplishment or amusement, but is rather a way of life possessing a strong ethical and moral character.

Rule One: Make a delicious bowl of tea.
Material sufficiency is inadequate. What is missing is the sincere heart of the host.

Rule Two: Lay the charcoal so that it heats the water.
This rule directs attention to the lightness of spirit that comes when one sincerely brings all of one's knowledge and technical skill to any task that is for the benefit of one's guest.

Rule Three: Arrange the flowers as they are in the field.
No principles of structure or composition. Try to bring to the guest the whole life that lies within each flower: that is, the individual beauty that all flowers possess naturally, the singularly transient life given by nature to the flowers. Know the precious life of all flowers represented in a single blossom.

Rule Four: In summer suggest coolness; in winter, warmth.

Rule Five: Do everything ahead of time.
To value one's own time and keep a certain margin is nothing other than to respect the time of others.

Rule Six: Prepare for rain.
The ability to respond with composure to any occasion, whatever may happen, with an open heart and free and direct mind.

Rule Seven: Give those with whom you find yourself every consideration.
Neither host nor guest acts merely as he pleases, but both act with mutual consideration. One becomes truly human through interaction with another. The host puts his whole being into the preparation of a tea gathering. The guest enters the tearoom with the intent of giving his host all of his heart, spirit, and mind.

Each tea gathering is an opportunity for an experienc that will never occur again in one's life.


eric said...

That's really beautiful. It sounds like the Gongfu or Kung Fu art of making tea. Each region has its own ceremonies, as does each type of tea (oolong, puh er, green, etc). Does the author go into that at all? If you ever make it out to Tucson, I'll take you to Seven Cups. It is a phenomenal tea house here, and the owner is the first female Tea Master to have been recognized by the Chinese government. She's wonderful.

eric said...

"The Seven Bowls of Tea" by Lu Tong (AD 790-835)

The first bowl of tea moistens my throat,
the second breaks my loneliness, and
the third bowl racks my brains, bringing to light the texts of 5,000 volumes.
The fourth induces perspiration whereby all ills evaporate through my pores.
The fifth makes my muscles and bones feel light, and
the sixth links me to celestials.
Be careful when drinking the seventh bowl,
as it makes you feel as if a cool breeze were coming from your armpits.


This is a loose translation, anyway. Some say that the last line refers to having so much steam coming out from your armpits and being so light from all the spiritual cleansing that you might actually ascend to the heavens if you drink seven bowls of tea. :)

By the way, the poem definitely refers to one steeping - not seven different bowls, but rather the way the flavor changes each time you steep the tea leaves - and good tea can always be infused again and again.