Wednesday, May 04, 2011

This is it - from a Buddhist tea friend

2 weeks ago, I had the chance to meet a long time reader of my blog traveling in Taiwan. He's American, Buddhist and lives in the 'Plum village' in France! That's already quite an interesting background! I think he was the first from this 'village' to order tea from me. What I'm sure of is that several others followed suit.

Their members practice 'tea meditation' (en français ici). This probably explains why some of the best felt tasting notes I received came from this village. To understand a tea, you need to focus and feel its effects on your body and mind. Most of us don't always have (or take) the time and concentration to experience tea fully. It's a challenge for the modern person to sit down and simply focus on a cup of tea.

He gave me this calligraphy "This is it" that I'm using on today's Cha Xi. It's a useful reminder to live and enjoy every moment. "This is it". It's our life that is happening, right now. Let's live it freely, without the shackles of our past or the fear of future.

In this spirit, today, I prepare a Cha Xi with my 2008 winter Hung Shui Oolong. I want to enjoy and share the pleasure a wonderfully roasted Dong Ding Oolong. "This is it". There's nothing else I'd rather do or nowhere else I'd rather be right now. With such a positive attitude, I can focus on each layer of aftertaste going from my throat to my mouth. I feel the energy on my tongue and my back's muscles loosen.

I can also distinguish how the tea has changed and sweetened after some resting in this object:
What is it?
Its walls are thick and are glazed inside out. The inside wall shows that it has been assembled in the middle section.
No, it's not a tea jar or a vase. In it, the leafs' flavors interact with the old glaze. They become finer and more mellow.
Actually, it's a grenade! Ships would carry them to detonate them with gunpowder when pirates attacked!
(Hat tip to Teaparker for this idea of using these grenades as tea jars!)

This brings a new meaning to the 'explosion' of joy I feel each day when I swallow my first drop of tea!

"This is it!" The love of tea transforms a weapon of war into a taste enhancer! It's a beautiful moment to live and experience, fleeting like a flower and fragile like a butterfly. Life is so short. Let's live our (good) teas with passion and creativity.

Thank you, tea brother, for this powerful message.


Evan Meagher said...

Really enjoyed this post. Your friend does indeed have a very interesting background!

Is there anywhere in particular that one can get those grenades/jars? Such an original way to store tea!

TeaMasters said...

Thank you Evan. Antique shops would be the best place to find such grenades. I will try to find more. So far, I just have 1!

Nicolas said...

Bonjour Stéphane

Merci de ce très bon article.

"It's a challenge for the modern person to sit down and simply focus on a cup of tea."
-> Oui en effet l'écoute du corps est presque ignorée dans notre société moderne. Le mode de vie actuel est un handicap pour le corps.

Le matin nous nous levons du lit, puis nous prenons la voiture pour aller au bureau où nous passons la journée assis. Le soir c'est le canapé qui nous attend.

Le mental, l'intellect est très sollicité. Il faut réfléchir encore et encore jusqu'à le stresser.

On obtient alors un fort déséquilibre entre les différentes parties qui nous composent. Un stress de l'intellect et une ignorance du corps, presque un mépris.


Au travers de la méditation et grace à la concentration sur la respiration, nous arrivons à calmer les mouvements de l'intellect, et à mieux se centrer sur le corps et son écoute. C'est une expérience très enrichissante pour la personne.


Cependant la méditation n'est pas accessible à tous, on s'énerve, on ne comprend pas pourquoi ce silence nous dérange.

Il existe des moyens compensatoire et intermédiaire pour l'écoute du corps; c'est la période qui suit une activité physique.

Allez marcher dans la nature, faites de la course à pied ou du vélo. Centrez vous sur la respiration et l'activité du corps, pas sur l'aspect sportif ni sur la performance.

De cette manière le physique passera au premier plan et le mental au deuxième plan. Penez une douche pour vous décontracter.

Vous êtes prêt dans vôtre corps pour une rencontre avec le thé.


Pour les personnes qui ne sont pas habituées à l'activité physique il sera nécessaire de répéter plusieurs fois la marche ou la course à pied pour avoir une approche de ce que je décris.

Bon thés à tous et bonne rencontre avec vous même.


Michel said...


What a way to start the day.

Je te conseil vivement le livre' Living buddha living Christ 'de Thich Nhat Hanh

TeaMasters said...

Merci pour tes conseils, Nicolas.

Merci pour tout, Michel.

Rich said...

What a neat find, a tea grenade. You certainly have and come across some of the coolest stuff out there.


TeaMasters said...

Thanks Rich!
I'm looking forward showing you some more finds next time you return to Taiwan.

Justin said...

How cool! I recognized the calligraphy right away. I practice in the Plum Village tradition! It's cool we have the same taste for tea. :)

I have yet to meet Thich Nhat Hanh or his brothers and sisters but I look forward to it. Hopefully I'll get a chance next year.


Unknown said...

Great - now I need to find a tea gernade for my mouth :-)