(IMAGE: Yixing teapot brewing Anxi Jin Guan Yin Oolong Tea 金觀音烏龍茶 atop a Tang-Song period bowl and Korean tea tray)
Dear beloved blog readers,
I must admit, its been too long (far too long). Rather than counting my absence in days, weeks, or months, years will have to be the means of measure to calculate the time past since last I wrote. Alas, with restored vigor (and a damned good explanation), I return to this craft. Better, faster, stronger… And fortified with the force of tea (as always)!
The reasons for my lapse in literary output are simple: I have been publishing elsewhere (check the major contemporary arts publications LEAP, Randian, or NYAQ just to name a few), and I’ve moved. Yes! For those who don’t know me outside of the virtual world, I now live (and brew tea) in the 大蘋果 (the “Big Apple”, i.e. New York City).
Moving out of my teahouse which I had called home for a decade was intense to say the least. During these ten years, I had been a staple of the Bay Area tea culture, educating new-comers to tea, organizing countless tasting events, and even helping with the development of a handful of now successful tea businesses. Personally, professionally, and (yes) even spiritually, San Francisco was (and still very much is) my home.
The act of moving is a meditation. In such things like the martial arts, Noh drama, and, yes, even the tea arts, how one moves is critical to their practice. When one moves their whole life across a continent, one becomes instantly cognizant of what is necessary and what is not. Like peeling-back an onion skin, I, too, became aware at what was at the heart of my life, and, in tea, I was able to look at the raw core of my practice.
Gone now is the tatami-lined room I lived in, replaced with a modest apartment in Brooklyn/Queens. Where I make tea now bleeds into the everyday. I am reminded of the notion that one doesn’t need to go to the zendo (meditation hall) in order to meditate. Instead, as one cultivates their practice, they can do so anywhere. In this move, I’ve come to realize this even more and more.
What I’ve come to understand is thus:
- Take tea everywhere you go: You will ALWAYS be given the opportunity to make tea.
- Make tea in any circumstance. Whether you have everything or nothing, it isn’t about what you have that allows you to do something, its what you can do with what is around you. This is at the center of understanding the Way of Tea.
- Keep it simple: All you need is water and a vessel. Everything else is extra (and often a distraction).
- Focus on quality: Tea is hard to make, from seed to sip takes great amounts of care and attention. While ultimately tea is about enjoyment, don’t be lazy. The tea you brew will reflect this.
- Share: Moving to a new place can be scary, especially when you know no one. Sharing tea is one of the best ways to meet new people and create deep friendships. Share tea and share yourself.