Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why Drink Tea?

If you have not stopped by the mandarins tea, read this post and followed the link, please do so now.  The link is to a not so obscure newspaper, The New York Times; the story, of course is about tea.
The story is about a very interesting man, his life, and tea.  Later in life he moved to America and taught the Japanese tea ceremony.  Through this article I was introduced to the Urasenke tea ceremony tradition, and found out about their schools in the US. I like the way the article portrayed the man, and the tradition.  It had me thinking about tea all afternoon.
After dinner yesterday, my wife asked me to make her some tea.  I usually don't drink tea after dinner, because I am sensitive to caffeine.  I hadn't had gongfu cha, or tea brewed with a gaiwan in about three days, as I had been sick and busy.  I had things to do last night, and was thinking about work the next day.  After the water had been heated and the tea things set right, I took a deep breath and noticed such a change in my mind and body.  As I opened the bag of tea, I felt peaceful.  Manipulating the gaiwan, I was content and my muscles relaxed.  Just a few minutes preparing tea, and the whole mood and rhythm of the rest of my evening changed.  Especially approaching the tea table without a desire for tea myself, I remembered why I like tea to drink tea.
I have not been making tea with Chinese/Japanese tea sets for my whole life, I am not a master of tea.  I like the flavor of tea, and often take some in an insulated cup with me to work.  I can understand why people think Chinese/Japanese tea preparation is a bother, but last night I remembered why I like it.  As Mr. Yamada is quoted at the end of the NYT article 'As for those who think they are too busy to make time for tea, “You discover that you are not as busy as you think you are.”'


Bret said...

That was a really good post. Something we can all relate to.

T.alain said...

I've just found your blog....but are you an amator or an "amateur" of tea?
Very interesting blog I'll often come back...

Will said...

Au sens propre, un amateur est quelqu'un qui aime une ou plusieurs choses, un art. On parle par exemple d'amateur de musique, d'amateur de chevaux... Pour beaucoup de gens, le terme 'amateur' perd alors sa connotation négative, et devient une distinction.

I don't really speak French. I just copied it off the French Wikipedia page. It seems as though the two words amator and amateur must be related, and when the later is taken in the above connotation have at least a similar meaning.

Thanks for the nice comments both of you. And thanks also to Toki for posting that link. I probably wouldn't have read that NYT article otherwise.

T.alain said...

as i'm french,i'm an "amateur of chinese teas".i'm very fond of Rock teas,anxy Tie Guan Yin (roasted or not),Keemun red teas,Dan Cong and all Oolong teas (from China or Taiwan)
I live in France,i've got a rather badly level in english,but i understand what i read...
i wish a long life to your interesting blog.

yumcha said...

How fortunate that tea master was able to escape the fate of a Kamikaze pilot and find fulfillment in the peaceful ways of tea. Many of his contemporaries were not so fortunate. Even sadder, most Kamikaze pilots were not mindless drones without sense of human life but well-educated young men not at all eager to sacrifice a life only half lived.
Before he plunged his plane into an Allied vessel, Nakao Takanori left a poem that began,"How lonely is the sound of the clock in the darkness of night..." I'm happy to learn of a man who lived long enough to see many peaceful dawns and counted away the days with each cup of tea.

Will said...

I hope I didn't seem condescending trying to explain in French the meaning of my blog title. The last thing I want is to drive people away who are leaving such nice compliments! I didn't mean that you wouldn't understand if I explained in English. I just think the word sounds better in French.

yumcha I was very affected my the story of Mr. Yamada's life as well. What a set of circumstances... He was in line for a suicide mission to crash into an allied warship; but instead, his destiny was to be adopted by an American, then to spend many years bringing such a beautiful part of Japanese culture to America.

T.alain said...

No problems Will,I understood correctly your way of thinking.
You don't seem condescending at all.I'm proud to read some french word upon your blog.I thought it was funny to compare "amateur de thé chinois" and "amateur of chinese teas"...I was only joking.
As my friend Matt who is the master of a splendid Korean blogwh
I'd like to say: