Wednesday, August 22, 2012

About tea.

So I realize it's been quite a while since I've written a post. I've become rather adept (or so I thought) at writing about teas in, as I have discovered, a rather scientific and efficient manner- even if I haven't posted about them here. I describe the dry leaf aroma, then the wet leaf and then lead into the flavor of the tea itself and the kind of sensation it leaves the drinker with.

However today I was reminded by my tea instructor (and master) that tea is much more than that. Describing such teas as I am so gratefully allowed to experience should not be a scientific review- it should be, as previously stated, an experience. There is of course, a little bit of "this flavor" and "that aroma" to go into detail about, but tea is about life. It is about its own life and your life and how they coexist in that moment when you brew tea in the gong fu cha style.

Now I must admit- sometimes brewing tea with a certain sincerity and forwardness that it requires makes me nervous. Focusing on the tea and making an effort to be calm and relaxed within the moment and the now can fill me with anxiety. When I think of "now", I actively try to forget the "then", which of course, in tern, makes me think about "then"- past present and future. It reminds me that I am in a state transience or at least I hope I am. I am at the beginning of many forks in the road and while I've barely started, I need to start making decisions (and hope that they are the right ones) and start moving forward. The idea of being at a standstill to me is terrifying, as it becomes so easy to do and when I brew tea I can't help but think about all this. It can be scary at first, when I begin to heat the water and smell the dry leaves but as I begin to focus I remember that I am here and in this moment right now, everything is alright.

What is past is past, now is now and later will come. One step at a time.

It is with that initial jolt of anxiety and then the calmness that follows that I start to brew.

I work to focus on the tea- it's appearance, taste, aroma, sensation but I also observe the other moments that occur. I watch as the light flowing from the window onto the gaiwan as it shifts from being cool to warm to cool again. I am not in a hurry here (and being a New Yorker, this is a very rare thing indeed). And maybe that's what becomes so attractive about the tea. When I have time to practice gong fu cha all is well with the world and my life. Even if things are going poorly, in that moment everything is ok because I am alive.

I apologize as I don't really have a conclusion for this post so I hope this will suffice.