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Liquid Meditation

Text by: Jacque Crosswell Watene

Tea is instant wisdom — just add water!
-Astrid Alauda
The ritual of "taking tea" has been a custom for thousands of years, though it wasn't until the early 16th century that England and the rest of Western civilization discovered its merits. For centuries,
© Roger Ruth Photography
the ancient peoples of Asia have known the wisdom and pleasure that comes from sipping the lovely, hot brew from a porcelain cup. And thankfully, that wisdom was passed along to the Western world in the form of chests filled with loose tealeaves. Tisanes and herbal infusions have been used medicinally in almost every land and culture since the dawn of the ages, but the art of taking tea, (whether in the form of black Camellia sinensis leaves, herbal infusions, or tisanes) simply for the pleasure of it, is a fairly new idea (or one just rediscovered).

But where exactly does the wisdom in a hot cup of tea lie? It is meditative in its nature; one is forced to slow down from the very first tentative sip, lips testing the temperature, nose taking in the aromatic scent. The hands are warmed, the belly comforted, the mind stilled.

© Jessica Ceason Photography

Tea must be sipped; it is far too hot to be gulped down. Thus, the mere act of drinking tea urges one to sit meditatively, thoughtfully savoring the flavor and calming effect the hot liquid induces, as it mingles with the taste buds, warming the body and soul. Buddhist Zen Master Thich Nat Hahn advises us to, "Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves — slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future."

Tea is quiet. Whether taken in solitude or among dear ones, the hot drink (often accompanied by sweets and savories) demands to be sampled leisurely. Tea persuades reflection and serene enjoyment. When one is quiet, one is able to hear the wisdom of the highest self. When one is still, one is able to hear the wisdom of others. In the words of Saki, "Find yourself a cup of tea; the teapot is behind you. Now tell me hundreds of things."

© Roger Ruth Photography