Monday, May 20, 2013

The quiet language of tea


Do you feel that your tea changes from brew to brew? Not just that the leaves get depleted the more they are brewed, but that some brews come out better than others? This kind of experience is even more obvious in a tea class, when several people brew the same tea with the same water and same ware. The brews are never exactly the same. 

These 'differences' are the second, quiet language used by the tea leaves to communicate with us.

(The first, loud language are the flavors that come out pretty consistently for a certain tea and that reflect the nature of the tea, its soil, climate, production process...)

So, what does the tea want to tell us with this second language?  
The tea tells us how well we brewed the leaves. It's like a professor that gives you a grade. The grade may be low, but the message from the leaves is caring and full of hope: if you can hear (taste) this message, it means you have the power to improve your brewing technique.

Can the Holy Spirit help you become proficient in this tea language on this Pentecost day?! I don't think that tea is a language taught by the Holy Spirit! But what we can learn from people practicing faith is the calm, serenity and focus they use when they meditate, pray... There are no distractions, no iphone or computer that distracts their heart or mind. Let's bring this attitude to tea tasting.

The quieter you are, the louder the tea will speak to you. Then it's easier to distinguish this quiet voice that tells you how well you have brewed. You might then realize that being calm and focused also helps you to make better tea: you don't make technical mistakes (like forgetting to preheat your tea vessel), you take more time to analyze what kind of pour your leaves require or what flavors you want to make come out, and your pouring gesture is smoother.

Then, sometimes, it feels a miracle: you experience the perfect cup of tea. The tea flows inside your mouth as if it were a very light and pure water. Then the delicate flavors come out wave after wave. The mouth and throat feel clean and smooth despite all the richness of these flavors. And the body feels the comfortable effects of the tea for several minutes. Good quality tea is necessary, but not sufficient to enjoy this perfection. You also need to learn the quiet language of tea!

Enjoy a quiet Pentecost Tea time!

3 comments:

Marilyn said...

Stephane,
This is a beautiful post and so very true. I just love the meditation of tea and you have voiced it so eloquently. Thanks!

Stephane said...

Thank you Marilyn!

Richard Fiske said...

Stephane,
I truly appreciate this post as it explains much for a (relative) newcomer to fine teas such as myself.
I received your teas yesterday and started with last fall's baozhong. It was a fine tea, am looking forward to the rest!