My tea journey seemed to start by chance, yet was always destined to be. Seven years ago I wandered into a Japanese teashop in Paris for a sublime cup of sencha, and then found my way into the 1st arrondissement boutique of a Hong Kong tea master for an almost spiritual experience with my first pot of puerh. Unknown to me then, my life in tea had begun.
At first, I was attracted to tea as a beverage. Jumping right in, I trained as a tea sommelier at the UK Tea Academy, climbed in the Japanese tea gardens of Uji, and learned to make Taiwanese oolong on Ali Mountain. Cha Dao, Chanoyu, Senchado, and (of course) a proper afternoon tea are all traditions within the global tea culture that I have been fortunate to experience.
“Tea friend” was a new expression for me, and now it has become my view of the world. I have shared tea with amazing people in New York, London, Paris, Montreal, Tokyo, and Taipei. And now...online. This extended family has been generous and kind, with a deep wisdom and understanding of tea itself, the healing properties of tea, and the culture and community of tea from ancient times to the present.
In the last four years, I have begun to practice Cha Dao, or the Way of Tea. My view has shifted from seeing tea as a beverage to seeing tea as a plant medicine. After decades of personal meditation and meditation retreats in the Buddhist and Advita traditions, I have found through Cha Dao a deepening spiritual path. A ritual that brings profound quiet in the present moment. A practice that connects me to nature more deeply than all the years I have lived in the country. A tradition of drinking tea that opens the heart and offers space for peace, harmony and healing. My tea friends are now a sangha that comes together to share tea in ceremony.
Until I can see you in person, it is a pleasure to offer Leaves in a Bowl tea meditation online. It comes from the wisdom of many teachers and traditions. I look forward to sharing tea as you start your own tea practice.