Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tea connections

Japanese style garden in Taipei (Tatung University)
Recent readers of my blog may be surprised to see me preparing Oolong at an event in the Tatung university in Taipei. This picturesque place is better known as a background for wedding pictures! And how do I get access to such an old landmark of Taipei to make tea?

Teaparker, the tea master with whom I learn about tea, is my connection to this event. As a consultant for the Taipei Story House, every month, he gives a speech about tea open to the public (it used to be easy to get in, but now you need to register 2 weeks in advance!) To make these monthly events more lively and self-explanatory, Teaparker always asks one or several of his students to perform a Chaxi. Once a week, he also gives a more formal tea class at the Taipei Story House.

Teaparker thoughtful before the event
Teaparker is a former journalist who has now written about 40 books on the subject of tea. I am fortunate that I attended the very first tea class he taught, 12 years ago! And I have continued to attend his classes every week ever since. The tea world is very large and there's so much to explore. Teaparker doesn't pretend to know everything about tea, but he continues to learn and is passionate about sharing the joys he finds in tea.
Thanks to his tea classes, I have also the chance to connect with other wonderful tea persons who have become great friends.

Tea can be somewhat a lonely experience if nobody around you appreciates it. In Taiwan, this is rarely the case, because so many people like the taste of good Oolong, even if they don't put as much effort as we do in their Chaxi.

Sharing many delicious cups with people who also love tea creates a common bond of happiness. I have found this experience so amazing that I even wanted to share it with other tea lovers overseas and started this blog 10 years ago. And thanks to this blog, I have connected with Baroque musicians, artists, potters, writers, doctors, web designers, university professors, poets, physicists, movie and wine makers...all very talented and very interesting people. Exchanging pleasure and happiness in a meaningful and refined way is so gratifying... (Thanks again, dear tea friends).
We live in a more and more connected world and it's not always easy to disconnect! Too many connections may also lead to lost time, so it's important to nurture the good and the right ones.

There is one more connection I wish to mention in the relationship with tea: oneself. Preparing tea is actually never lonely if you use this moment to connect to oneself. Be here now. Every detail has its importance when you prepare tea. This motivates you to focus on what you are doing. Tea opens a road to meditation.

There's a inner dialogue with oneself during tea. The drinker judges if the brewer has prepared the tea as one wished it to be brewed. So, you learn to know how you like your tea, what taste gives you most pleasure, what smell reminds of which memory... Learn to listen to your inner voice!

3 comments:

Cody Turner said...

Beautiful article! I have been distancing myself from technology as much as possible when I try to enjoy tea. It really makes a difference.

Stephane said...

Many thanks Cody.

Steph said...

How wonderful! I feel this same way about my tea community here in Portland, OR. Should you find yourself on the West Coast, you should come and visit us!