Sunday, November 18, 2012

Refining The Gentlemen

Refining The Gentleman

After today's session with Matcha and a beautiful teabowl made by Cory Lum, I can understand what Lu Yu meant, in his book "The Classic of Tea." He believed that one could use tea for the refinement and cultivation of the gentleman/soul. Buddhist priests used tea for focus and Daoists used tea for cultivating immortality. I believe that all of these views are worthy of serious contemplation. After drinking the Matcha this afternoon, I felt more refined and more gentlemanly than I did before. These words seem foolish (Even to myself). I cannot explain why I felt the way that I did. I also feel like I know this tea in a deeper way than I did before. Saying this about the tea, I believe that all teas have a specific personality and they all have a different effect on both the soul and the body. They are not human, like you and I but they have a certain spirit that cannot be explained. It can only be experienced. Having recognized this, I am careful whenever I choose a teapot for a type of tea. I do not choose the teapot based on blind choice. I choose it based on how I feel when I drink a certain type of tea with a certain teapot. I also match teas with teapots based on the character of the tea as well as the character of the teapot. Some teas are rough and some are gentle, some are sweet and some are bitter, and some are very soothing and calm while others are exciting and full of energy. Teapots are the same way. When I experience these attributes in a tea, I try to match it with a teapot with that same motif. I have one teapot that I have not been able to match a tea with but hopefully I will find one. When I do, I know that tea will be very special. I believe that developing the ability to pair the right tea with the right teapot is one of the ways that tea cultivates the gentleman/soul within all of us.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Chinese Tea Cermonies

In the beginning, tea in China was only used as medicine. They used it for things like headaches, rheumatisms, and to improve eyesight. In about 780 BC Lu Yu wrote the book The Way of Tea (Cha Jing.) This book gave guidelines on how it was to be served, the types of utensils that were to be used, and a list of the eight different types of tea that existed during that time period. This showed that tea was starting to be used not only for medicine but for the refinement of the gentlemen and for leisure as well.
After Buddhism entered China at about 311-589 CE a Chinese school of Buddhism named Chan Buddhism started using tea as a way of purifying the mind, building relationships among the monks in their monasteries, and a way to make guests feel welcome. They started using tea because they wanted to stop following dogmatic traditions of Chinese Buddhism and to stop using the holy scriptures that China had accepted to give structure to Buddhism. They believed that tea ceremonies were a good way to clear their minds so that they could develop the inner Buddha within themselves. Lu Yu believed "tea is cold, most suitable for people in pursuit of morality and happiness." It was a way of cultivating what he called a “gentleman.” A monk named Huai Hai, who was a follower of the Chan School of Buddhism, founded an order of monks called the Baizhang Monastic Rule. He used tea as a way of developing unity within the monastery and to show that they were truly all connected. According to Buddhism, when one reached enlightenment they understood that all of creation even the entire was connected. He was trying to convey tht idea on a small and easy to understand way to his pupils. His monks drank from a single cup with which they all shared. But, in some writings it is said that he would present each monk with their own cup. Either way, he would fill the cup with hot water, then he would sprinkle a small amount of powdered tea in the bowl, and then he would proceed to whip the tea in the bowl until the top of the water was covered in froth. Everyday they would serve tea to Buddha, their guests, each other, and use it for meditation.
These monks believed in three virtues of drinking tea. These are as follows:
1. Kept the practitioner awake during sitting Zen at night.
2. Helped people digest while full.
3. It gave people a serene heart without desires. Being free from desires was the key to ultimate peace and contentment, according to Buddhism. It was the key that set them free from pain.
In the Tang Dynasty tea became a common man’s drink. Whenever someone would ask Zhao Zhou, a monk during the Tang Dynasty, questions about Zen/Chan he would first tell them “go and have tea!” He believed that Zen/Chan was “neither mysterious or special, but was implied in daily life such as drinking tea and carrying water.”
​According to Chinese tradition there are four types of tea ceremonies. These
four ceremonies are as follows:
1. Aristocracy Tea Ceremony柜组茶道- they focused on the quality of the tea nothing else.
b. A lot of famous teas received their names through this ceremony/subculture. Rich people gave them these names because they felt like they were special teas. Sometimes the emperor would give names to different teas or aristocrats would give different high-level teas names before they would give these teas to the emperor. It originated as emperor tribute tea. They used the fact that they could drink these teas as a way to show off their money.
i. Example- Gong Fu Tea功夫茶- Gui Zu Cha Dao- aristocracy tea ceremony
2. The Refined Scholar Ceremony- (Yuan Shi院士) they focused on the charm or personality 人气of the tea. They focused on appreciating the tea’s aesthetics or beauty.
ii. They first developed the skill or art of tasting and appreciating tea from a refined scholar point of view. It was not about money and prestige. They used tea as a muse for their scholastic endeavors.
3. The Buddha Ceremony- they focus on the virtues or morality of the tea. They used this for meditation.
i. The monk not only used the tea for meditation, they used it in their worship of Buddha. They could drink consume alcohol so they used tea instead. They still used tea to treat people. Many people would come to worship Buddha and the monks would treat them. They used tea to show their guests respect. Their entire life revolved around tea.
ii. They grew their own teas. They have attributed with the development of Chinese Tea.
iii. They wrote their own books on tea.
4. Common People Tea Ceremony- (shisu世俗 Worldly Ceremony) This was the way that the common people enjoyed tea. Since most people do not have the money to become a scholar or an aristocrat, they focused on flavor and how the tea made them feel. The average Chinese person does this everyday. They use tea to help them enjoy life, as medicine, and as a way of fellowshipping with others. Since life for them was very difficult, they used tea as a coping mechanism.
Due to the Waring Period in China, the tea culture weakened. The instability of the country made it difficult for anything to develop. Today the modern tea ceremony is more about the show than the philosophy and symbolism behind the ceremony. They enjoy the aesthetics and the fellowship of the ceremony. Today the most famous of these ceremonies is Gong Fu Tea 功夫茶.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


The lust for tea is a burning fire that churns within me.
It is ever wanting but never satisfied. Do I call this thirst passion or insanity? As I sit here in my chair drinking this cup of tea trying to fulfill the need in me for that awesome chaqi, I wonder is this thirst within me passion or insanity?
I see this website and I covet that next teapot or tea. Ever wanting but never satisfied thirst for more, more, and still more!? I drown in pools full of colors of gold, red, brown, black, and green. Instead of trying to save myself from drowning I fire up the kettle, pick that perfect cup, the most functional teapot, and that leaf that fits mood at the time?! Why?!
Is this passion or insanity?
This love for tea this thirst within me drives me to insanity! It is so bitter sweat this drive within me!
Hey sir do you mind passing the tea?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Endless Chawan

Today was a beautiful day! Bright warm sunshine always has a tendency to bring out the best in me. I have heard of people having "seasonal teas" and I never really gave it much thought until today. I love to drink Japanese green teas during the summer and spring months. Today was about 63 degrees outside and perfect weather for green tea! Today I decided to drink a huge bowl full of Yuuki-cha's Uji Matcha Tenkei Tori. To me this is their best Matcha.I also used from Yuuki-Cha a stainless steel Matcha sifter and a Chashaku or known in the West as a Matcha Scoop. I used a Chawan that I bought from a local College Ceramics Professor named Michael T. Schmidt. It has a beautiful Orange Shino Glaze and can hold about 16oz of water. I also used a Chasen or in English a whisk.

Preparation Steps:
1) I scooped about 2-3 scoops of Matcha into the sifter.
2) I took the wooden utensil located inside the sifter kit and I raked the Matcha through the screen in the sifter.
3) I heated the water to about 175 Degrees .
4) I poured about 14 1\2 to 15oz of hot water into the Chawan.
5) I poured the Matcha powder into the Chawan and then proceeded to whisk the Matcha and water mix until
a greenish white froth appeared on the top.
6) Then it was time to Drink Drink Drink!!!

Description of the tea:
This drink has a thick frothy flavor to it with undertones of Nori. The texture reminded me a little of warm ice cream. The green color was so deep and rich. The smell was very uplifting and invigorating. After taking in a deep breath of this wonderful tea I had this huge relaxed grin on my face that went from one ear to the other! Oh goodness I want more just thinking about it! After a few sips I whisked the tea again because I noticed in the past that for me the flavor experience was in both the froth and the liquid and it kept the powder from settling at the bottom of the Chawan. After I finished I sat back on my couch with a big smile of contentment and satisfaction on my face and a warm belly full of delicious tea. Man life is good!

Here is a picture of the Chawan that I used.

I included below three pictures. The first one is the Chawan and the whisk, the second is the sifter, and the third is the scoop for the Matcha.

Monday, February 27, 2012

First Blog!

Today is my first blog. I understand that everyone has a blog and that everyone has something to say, but the purpose in my blog is to inform people of my discoveries, fun times, accomplishments, and failures concerning tea with you. I do not believe that tea can ever be good tea until it is shared with someone else and that you discover tea and its secrets to share it with others. Keeping it to yourself is a wasted discovery. I hope that you enjoy reading my blogs as much as I do writing them. Life is short and it is intended to be shared.