Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Question Mark Chaxi

For this week's tea class, Ms. Zhang came up with this Chaxi for a high mountain Oolong from Qilai. Since she doesn't have a dedicated Chabu, she thought of using her grey 'meditation blanket' and a purple fabric on top. The material and color of these 2 fabrics is very suitable for a cold winter day. Ms. Zhang said she often puts this blanket on her knees to keep her warm at her desk when it's particularly cold. This adds a personal, intimate touch to her Chaxi. It's very much in the 'Mitate spirit' I spoke about 2 days ago to divert an object from its original purpose and find a new use for it in our Chaxi.

Usually, we like to have some flowers or plant on the Chaxi to link the tea experience to the fleeting beauty of nature. Ms. Zhang did without on her Chaxi. Except the wares, the only decoration on her Chabu is this framed question mark in the right corner of her meditation fabric:
This question mark is a symbol to remind her that a Chaxi is also a good moment to check on yourself and ask if you're satisfied with your life, your job, your friendships... A fresh high mountain Oolong clarifies the mind as well as the palate! It's also likely to provide a warm, benevolent feeling that can help you answer your questions with a compassionate attitude. Making tea for oneself (and others) should be a very relaxing and pleasing experience. It's in such a state of mind that we are most likely to find positive answers to our questions. And a calm mind produces a steady hand and a steady pour in the teapot which in turn produces a sweeter and more harmonious cup of tea. That's a very basic and practical reason why a zen spirit and tea go hand in hand.
The question mark is also a good symbol for not taking anything for granted and question everything in your Chaxi:
- How well did I brew my leaves?
- In case I'm not pleased, is the bad taste due to the leaves, to my brewing, to my (faulty) accessories, to the quality of the water?
- How can I improve my tea experience?
- What's the taste of a great tea?
- What does a Chaxi add to my tea experience?
- Is this Chaxi a reflection of my personality, my creativity?
- Should I have fixed parameters for the weight of the leaves, the water temperature, the brewing time or should I adapt these parameters to each new tea and situation?
- (Insert your question here!) ...
Now, here are pictures of the Chaxi I told you lately, where I used too many leaves of this wonderful top Hung Shui Oolong from Dong Ding from this winter. When I realized that my first brews were too intense, I was partially able to salvage the later brews by drastically cutting the brewing time. This led me to recognize again this simple truth that 'less is more' is often true in tea. And that quality supersedes quantity.
In this blog, among others, I try to show and tell how I'm answering some of the questions I've listed above. There are many ways to brew tea and very few are wrong, because if they were the brewers would realize and change. But many methods come with trade offs to make it easy (by using a Chahai), quick, casual... because time is limited, because you're brewing in the office or on the road... The Chaxi I find worthwhile sharing, on the other hand, are my attempts to make the most of my tea moments and provide a complete experience for the senses and the creative mind. How great can this moment become if I put all my passion? How can I create a Chaxi that answers the question: where would I rather be now? with "here!"
There should be no better place to brew tea than at home!

1 comment:

le disciple du thé said...

«Il y a beaucoup de façons de brasser le thé et très peu ont tort, car si c'était le cas, les brasseurs se rendraient compte et changeraient.» tu induis par cette affirmation que tous les brasseurs portent attention aux résultats et savent reconnaître le bon et le mauvais, pourtant beaucoup de buveurs de thé ne sont pas comme ça... donc tout cela fonctionne que si il y a implication sincère dans le brassage du thé.