My weekend begins here:
Out of work and at home,
What care in the world do I have?
Cold weather and warm tea keep me huddled under my kotastu.
A single flower decorates my tea room.
Now is the moment I’ve been waiting for.
I must admit, its hard to separate tea and writing. History is awash with their combination. Lu Yu’s “Tea Classic” (Cha Ching) was seen as one of the earliest long-form tea poems. As tea’s popularity spread into the Song, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties, tea was often the topic that scholars, monks, and even emperors chose to write about.
In my own studies of East Asian history, I’ve worked on pieces by the Korean Seon monk Cho’ui’s Dashinjeon (literally “Ode to the Tea God”), as well as works by Japanese masters such as Sen no Rikyu, Otagaki Rengetsu, and Baisao. All seem to have known (either intrinsically or through a lifetime spent with tea) that this little leaf was something special. They dedicated their lives to its appreciation and to sharing it with others.
On rainy days I seem to want tea the most. The cold keeps me huddled inside. The tea seems to become my friend. As if in idle conversation, I brew it and it seems to “speak” to me. Today its a charcoal-roasted Tiekuanyin, brewed in a tiny Yixing teapot. That, alongside the works by Stonehouse (who was also an avid tea-drinker) seems to fit best as I sit in my own little urban hermitage.
For those of you who are reading… What do you find tea does to you? How has it changed your life, or, at the very least, how does it change the moment you are in? Feel free to comment… I will respond in kind. Until then, I return to my tea, my hermit poetry, and the warmth of my kotatsu.