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About the Author
Lhasha Tizer works at Miraval Life in Balance Resort, where she teaches classes and conducts personal consultations about tea, mindfulness, and meditation. She consults, coaches, and instructs others in creating mindful and healthy lifestyles through her business, The Way of Wellness. She educates, as well as creates special tea ceremonies and events for others. She lives peacefully and contentedly in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband, Russell. Lhasha has four grown children and three grandchildren who fill her life with love.
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Tea Here Now
Relax and Rejuvenate with a Tea Lifestyle Rituals, Remedies, and Meditations
By Donna Fellman, Lhasha Tizer
New World LibraryCopyright © 2005 Donna Fellman and Lhasha Tizer
All rights reserved.
Tea Here Now embracing the spirit of tea
"In the world of tea each movement in the making of tea has nobility and meaningfulness. The mundane, trivial acts of setting a fire, boiling some water, and making a bowl of tea are lifted to the level of an art form.... In the way of tea this type of transformation is not restricted just to the making or serving of tea, but it can spill over into all of one's daily actions and transform the entire day."
Brother Joseph Keenan
How many processes in life invite us to pause, look within and around, enjoy, and give thanks? Tea has been the occasion for celebrating marriage, for honoring the aging process, for acknowledging the changing of the seasons, and for joining in fellowship and peace. Enjoying tea is one of these ordinary and yet extraordinary activities that everyone can participate in. Whether it is experienced formally, as in the Japanese tea ceremony, chanoyu, or informally, when a friend drops over unannounced, tea is a way to share one's time, thoughts, and heart with another person.
What are your experiences with tea? Warm memories from childhood of tea time shared with a grandparent or an aunt, quiet times at home on a wintry night, a relieving break from a hard day's work, cooling off a hot summer afternoon with ice-cold tea, or simply the memorable occasions with friends glad to be together and share life? Whatever it is that draws us to tea, we can acknowledge that tea is a remarkable vehicle for bringing balance and wholeness, ritual and ceremony into our lives.
Cultivating the Tea Lifestyle
Everything about tea inspires careful attention, from the methods of cultivation to the moment when we inhale the "breath of tea," with its unique and exotic aroma. As health practitioners and daily tea drinkers, we know how tea has benefited and improved our own lives. We feel we are missing something when we don't stop for our everyday ritual of tea drinking. We miss both the simple earthiness and grounding that the vegetative tea drink bestows on us and the simple connection to the natural five elements of life that are found in tea: water (to make the tea), fire (heat), air (wind that feeds fire), earth (leaf), and metal (pot). The tea experience offers a harmonious balance of forces in an immediate way that brings a quality to life we don't want to do without.
Why tea here now? Tea embodies solitude and time for quieting the mind; a time for slowness, introspection, and contemplation; a time to look within and get to know oneself and one's world; a time for remembering all of the Zen monks, Taoist sages, and tea masters who have guided our way to "being" rather then "doing."
Tea encapsulates hospitality, sociability, and the opening of our hearts and homes to share a cup of tea with a friend or an unexpected guest. Tea relaxes us and loosens our tongue, allowing our natural generosity and good nature to come forth.
Finally, tea symbolizes sensitivity, inviting us to become aware of all our senses. It draws us in to notice its aroma, the sounds and touch of water, and the magnificent color of its liquor. As we learn to awaken our senses and to understand the spirit of tea at its essence, we can fully experience the wholeness and interconnectedness of all life.
The Spirit of Tea
In the teapot, something close to alchemy happens — like the fanciful being in Aladdin's lamp, an enigmatic tea genie is born in a watery infusion and dances before our eyes. The spirit of tea would likely be described very differently by different people. It is culture in a teacup, a manifestation of the spirit, lifestyle, folk habits, temperament, and customs of each unique culture that developed a tea tradition. It is the teacup or bowl itself, an appreciation of beauty in many forms, an evolution of vessels that best express the grace, lightness, and delicacy of the beverage.
Tea is an infusion of heated water poured over delicate leaves and left to steep until the leaves release the fragrance, color, and flavor of their essential oils, polyphenols, and nutritive components. When we drink tea, we are savoring a new medium — the essence of the water and the leaves, a liquid both different and greater.
Metaphorically speaking, tea is also an infusion we can take into life. Through the ritual of tea drinking, we can be instilled with qualities that soak us with their essential flavor and leave us with an expanded sense of ourselves. What is worthwhile to infuse? Through tea awareness, we begin to learn the fine art of discrimination. Some experiences are useful and beneficial, and others are useless and even potentially toxic (much like the waste products our bodies regularly eliminate). Through tea drinking, we can use our senses to tell us what to keep and what to let go of. We check in with ourselves to see how we feel before we take our tea and then after. We use our energy level as a yardstick to measure the derived benefit and ask ourselves, "Do we have more or less energy from the tea-drinking experience?" Having more energy might translate as feeling calmer, more alert, clear-headed, and sensitive. A loss or deficit might appear as tiredness, fatigue, weakness, or depression. If you sense you have more energy, especially if this is an experience that repeats itself, then this is a state worth infusing. If you lose energy, then this is an experience to avoid or limit.
Once we know what essential qualities are worth infusing, then we regard them with tenderness and delicateness. Here we metaphorically chew and swallow our experience, breaking it down like a food and absorbing it into our bloodstream of our being. When we assimilate this experience, it becomes a part of us, we merge with it, and it merges with us. Now this quality is ours, and we have ownership of it. Then comes the last part of the infusion process, manifesting what we own.
Manifesting means bringing these qualities into everyday life and sharing them with others — for example, transferring the calm you feel after taking a break for tea and putting it into the stress of a difficult decision-making process at work, which will in turn enable you to offer peaceful, thoughtful insights and creative solutions. It means drawing on the sensitivity you derive from the tea aesthetic and listening with awareness to your spouse and children when you return home from a long day at work. It means using the respect you learned from kneeling and bowing in the tearoom to recycle, reuse, and be mindful of the earth's resources. It means being inspired by the hospitality experience of the tea ceremony to give some of your time and energy to another.
Making Tea as a Metaphor for Life
When we endeavor to master the art of making a proper cup of tea, or anything else, we find that what we really master is our own self. The tea, the water, and the teapot remain essentially the same. But we change: Patience replaces frustration and anxiety. Confidence grows, and awkwardness dissolves. We become calm and centered. Cup after cup, day after day — practice, as they say, makes perfect. If we can apply ourselves and succeed in making a proper cup of tea, then we can take that knowledge and use it to cook a meal, plant a garden, play an instrument, or ride a horse. What part of our life wouldn't be improved by using the mastery of our self that we've gained by learning to make a wonderful cup of tea?
As we develop an appreciation for a good cup of tea, we cultivate a taste for quality and authenticity that expands beyond our taste for tea. For whatever we master in one area of our lives can be transferred to another area. As we make a good cup of tea, we learn much more than technique; we gain an essential understanding of how to approach anything we do.
Sen no Rikyu (1522–1591) was a Japanese tea master who is today regarded as the patriarch of chanoyu. One day, one of his students asked him the secret to making tea. Rikyu replied, "In the summer, impart a sense of deep coolness, in winter, a feeling of warmth; lay the charcoal so that it heats the water, prepare the tea so that it is pleasing — these are the secrets."
This sounded too simple to the student. He wanted Rikyu to reveal a hidden mystery, deep secret teachings, and the unknown. The student exclaimed, "That's no secret. Anyone can do that."
"If you can do that, then I will be your student," Rikyu replied.
The secret of mastery comes from developing the capacity within ourselves to do even one simple thing so completely that we glean wisdom from that process that is applicable to all areas of our life. If we approach making our humble cup of tea as a means to live consciously, then making a cup of tea can be instrumental in having and becoming what we desire most. Through this one simple act, we can influence the outcome of a day and effect the unfolding of our own destiny.
When to Drink Tea
In idle moments
When bored with poetry
Beating time to songs
When the music stops
Living in seclusion
Enjoying scholarly pastimes
Conversing late at night
Studying on a sunny day
In the bridal chamber
Detaining favored guests
Playing host to scholars or pretty girls
Visiting friends returned from far away
In perfect weather
When skies are overcast
Watching boats glide past on the canal
Midst trees and bamboos
When flowers bud and birds chatter
On hot days by a lotus pond
Burning incense in the courtyard
After tipsy guests have left
When the youngsters have gone out
On visits to secluded temples
When viewing springs and scenic rocks
Hsu Tze-Shu, Ch'a ShuCHAPTER 2
Tea's Journey from shen nong's cup to ours
"Tea is a divine herb. Profits are ample if one plants it. The spirits are purified if one drinks it.... Truly it is a necessity in the daily life of men and an asset for the fiscal prosperity of the commonwealth."
Xu Guangqi (1562–1633)
Book of Agricultural Administration
Tea has been, and is, many things to many people. It was drunk by the ancient Chinese sages to increase longevity, it was communally shared by Zen monks to honor Buddha and maintain alertness in meditation, it was sipped by Asian royalty to promote health, and it was incorporated in contests testing memory and concentration. What began as the drink of royalty came to be considered a necessity for people from all walks of life. It is a way to socialize, to take a break from work, or to retreat in reverie. Legends and stories about tea's origins and value to humankind have been handed down throughout the years.
Tea in China
Though botanists claim that the tea plant is indigenous to several countries, it was without question the Chinese who were the first to drink and value its extraordinary qualities. More than five thousand years ago, the Chinese Emperor Shen Nong, also known as the Divine Cultivator and the father of Chinese herbalism, purportedly took his first sip. "Tea gives one vigor of body, continuity of mind, and determination of purpose," he discovered, and he used tea as an antidote to the toxins he ingested during the process of tasting and cataloguing all of China's medicinal plants. The first reference to the cultivation of tea appeared in 350, in an updated edition of the Erh Ya, a Chinese dictionary. This entry explained that a beverage was made by boiling the leaves and was used as a cure for digestive and nervous disorders, and as a salve to help rheumatic pain.
As Taoism emerged in China, it focused on the development of recipes that would create a magic elixir of immortality. Tea was often used in these formulas, and although it had been an powerful antidote for the Divine Cultivator, it was not able to counteract the poisonous qualities of mercury and lead that were often mixed with it. However, it was at this point that tea became recognized for its ability to energize and balance mind and body.
The Tao was seen in everything: a way of life, it connected all things. Chuang Tzu, Taoist poet and philosopher, when asked about the Tao, said there is nowhere that the Tao is not. The Taoist's life was about appreciating, living, cultivating, and celebrating this energy, which connects us all. Tea became a source for this celebration, one of the means toward a masterful and energetic life.
The taking of tea in a contemplative fashion, quietly and in a relaxed manner amid beautiful surroundings, has been an important ritual ever since Emperor Shen Nong took his first sip in his palatial herb garden. During the Tang Dynasty in China (618–907), tea drinking came into favor with the royal families and upper classes, who preferred to enjoy their new pastime out of doors, while listening to harmonious music, composing poetry, and painting beautiful landscapes. Separated from the regular tasks and work of daily living, the ritual of tea lent itself to aesthetic and scholarly pursuits. It was an endeavor of being, a time for introspection. Amid this aura of "tea high," poets and tea votaries such as Lu Tung wrote their prolific praise of tea and its wondrous effects. The Classic of Tea by Lu Yu, published in 780, came to be regarded as the definitive volume on all aspects of tea, and Lu Yu soon became the patron saint of tea, revered and celebrated for his knowledge of all things "tea."
Renowned for his care and precision in the making and serving of tea, this new master of tea became a favorite of the nobility, frequently invited to grace their table with his presence. During the Tang Dynasty, when Lu Yu lived, water filtration systems did not exist, and the high-quality water necessary for good-tasting tea was difficult to find. Legend says that when Lu Yu was traveling down the famous Yangtze River, he was invited to tea by a high-ranking dignitary. The dignitary ordered his chief ranking officer to go to the river at Nanling, which was said to have the "finest water under heaven," and draw some for tea. When Lu Yu arrived, he took a sip, then put down the ladle in a disgruntled manner, saying that the water was too low-grade and must have been drawn from a spot close to the riverbank, where it could be polluted and stagnant. The officer protested, "A hundred witnesses can testify that I drew this water from midstream." Then Lu Yu took a second sip and replied, "Well, maybe it is Nanling mainstream water, but it has been heavily diluted with water from the riverbank." The officer was in awe of Lu Yu's perception and accuracy. He insisted that he had indeed obtained the water from midstream, but admitted that upon disem-barking, some water had spilled out of the container, and he had topped it off with water from the riverbank. "Ah, Master Lu!" he exclaimed. "You are clearly an immortal!"
From tea aficionados like Lu Yu, we learn the art of discernment. This story helps us to realize that human beings can develop a highly refined ability to distinguish the subtle tastes, aromas, sounds, and sights that we rarely experience in our own lives. Lu Yu is emblematic of the expert in us all, just waiting for an opportunity to awaken. He represents the researcher and the scientist within us who thrives on discovery and aspires to excel.
The sixth century monastic tradition of tea drinking in China was born out of Zen Buddhist monk Bodhidharma's resolute efforts to stay awake during long hours of meditation. Legend tells us that he was so determined and persistent to this end that in a frenzy of frustration he tore off his eyelids and threw them to the ground so that he would never fall asleep again. From these two eyelids, tea plants grew. When the plants matured, he picked the leaves, brewed them, and discovered that tea drinking supported the rigors of long hours of meditation practice by sustaining wakefulness. He then taught his disciples the beneficial uses of tea in their daily ritual practices. A new relationship was created, and tea became the friend of meditation.
Excerpted from Tea Here Now by Donna Fellman, Lhasha Tizer. Copyright © 2005 Donna Fellman and Lhasha Tizer. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
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Table of Contents
ContentsPreface in one sip of tea,
Foreword tea and the spirit by james norwood pratt,
Introduction living tea,
1 Tea Here Now embracing the spirit of tea,
2 Tea's Journey from shen nong's cup to ours,
3 Art and Science preparing a proper cup of tea,
4 Health and Wellness remedies for every occasion,
5 The Japanese Tea Ceremony cultivating harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility,
6 Meditation and Contemplation the path to inner stillness,
7 Ritual and Ceremony bringing the sacred into everyday life,
8 Sharing Tea the Essence of hospitality,
9 Drinking It All In nature in a teacup,
Resources to Learn More About Tea,
About the Authors,