Friday, November 05, 2010

Kaizen and feedback

Kaizen is Japanese for continuous improvement. This is the key success factor for many manufacturers, but also for serious tea students. The opposite of Kaizen is when you achieve a revolution, when you do something completely new and wonderful. Examples of revolution:

- when you first ditched your home's tea bag (or scented tea) to experience quality loose leaves,
- when you first tasted a tea made in a small Yixing teapot, instead of a big (glass) pots,
- your first successful Gao Shan Oolong, sencha, raw puerh...
- your first peaceful Cha Xi...

Most of the time, though, our tea skills improve slowly, one tea experience at a time.

Thanks to my blog, I have not only taught others about tea, but have also received valuable feedback. The latest feedback comes from Florida. A long time reader suggested I put a work of art behind my Cha Xi. Tea and art mix so well! Tea is the inspiration for so many artists.

It shouldn't just be beautiful, it should also have a meaning connected to my tea. So, today, as I was preparing to brew my 2003 wild raw puerh cake from Yiwu, I knew exactly what would fit: a picture of a plantation in Yiwu, made by Philippe Coste. (You'll recognize the banner of my blog). I intend to have it framed soon.

This picture is part of an exchange between tea friends, again thanks to my blog. With it, I have completed the setup for my good tea with art, nature and friendship.

It was more than just a small improvement after all. (And thank you all for your feedbacks and comments. Sharing experiences and ideas help everybody improve).


Sir William of the Leaf said...

Beautiful setup!

Ally said...

I get it about the teapots--but what would you suggest is the best cup or bowl from which to drink tea?


Petr Novák said...

Hi Stephane,

Inspirational as usually, thanks

Your "Yiwu tea time" with picture of Yiwu behind reminds me something what I realized during my "tea studies". I have realized that for my mind it is really helpful if I can connect tea I drink with area where it grows, with people who cares about it during its way from tree to my cup. May be it is not so important for enjoying the tea in my mount but it helps me to understand to tea generally.


Anonymous said...

Yes, Stéphane, you're right. I am still a beginner in the "Cha Dao" and I must admit that your blog is pretty helpful. A lot of information, different things to experiment, and also great teas in your selection!

your first successful Gao Shan Oolong

But how can I be sure that it was really successful? :-)
I can have the feeling it was, but maybe you would have told me it was crap, had you tasted what I made!

Thanks again for your blogging, Stéphane.

TeaMasters said...

Thanks William,

Each tea family fits a different tea cup. The best way to find about it is to practice drinking the same tea from different cups and taste the difference by yourself.

Thanks for dropping by. I hope your new studio is ready now...

It will be successful when you know it was a success and you won't need anybody else to tell you it was.

Alex Zorach said...

This is really interesting, and resonates with some of the things I've been thinking about with respect to productivity and work ethic. It's interesting that the Japanese have a simple, short word for the concept of continual improvement. It is sad, but I think there are many aspects of American society in which this is a rather alien concept.

I wrote about this (not in the context of tea) on my "other" blog recently, in a post titled working hard vs. working intelligently.

I especially notice little, gradual improvements with cooking...things like learning how long it takes to cook fish or potatos or certain vegetables based on how thick / thin they are...further honing my sense of being able to tell whether or not something is done by looking at it, or by the smell it gives off in the pan...there is always room for gradual improvement when it comes to anything having to do with food or drink!