Thursday, December 9, 2010

Perspectives on Tea

Continuing my updates from the past few months…

Back in October, I was contacted by a writer from a blog called Tea + Travel about participating in a series of interviews about tea ceremony. If you’d like to read it, the link is here:

There were three other interviews in the series also. The first was from Gabriel Soga Caciula, who is an Urasenke teacher from Belgium:

“What is there, in Chado that attracts non-Japanese? I would say the same thing that attracts Japanese. In the space defined by the concepts mentioned before: aesthetics, philosophy, decorum, social entertainment, one can find the basic principles defining the spirituality of the way of tea, derived from the closeness of this practice to Zen Buddhism: Wa, Key, Sei, Jaku or Harmony, Respect, Purity, Tranquility.”
- Read the rest of the interview here:

There was also one with Rebecca Lyn Cragg of Camellia Teas in Ottawa, Canada:

“For those who stand outside the Chanoyu Culture, looking in at something silent, mysterious, exotic and elaborate, they cannot often find or appreciate what it is that captures the hearts of practitioners. We in turn, are not always able to convey our fascination and commitment skillfully either. If I could offer an analogy, it might be a little like those who attend a classical concert: while the general audience may enjoy the melody, or harmony they hear, likely other musicians, particularly those of the same instrument – and even more so – those who have studied, played and enjoyed that particular composer’s piece, are best able to empathize and appreciate whether the musician has interpreted the piece well, or played that crescendo ‘correctly’, or not.
Athletes too I think could understand that ‘mastery’ is something we strive for throughout our lives. Playing a ‘perfect game’ is nearly impossible (as impossible as becoming a Tea ‘Master’, a term I strongly dislike). The people attending the sports game can cheer and be pleased with the outcome if the athlete wins, but not necessarily understand the brilliance of applying certain strategies, or understand the intricacies of what a move was particularly well-executed. In the end, the same is true of these tea rituals: likely only other practitioners (of the same school, and there are dozens of different tea schools), can really appreciate the time, effort, thoughtfulness and depth that has gone into creating a tea gathering. Still, the musician, athlete and tea practitioner continues to forge ahead, enjoying the collegiality as well as the general audience.”
- Read more:

And Michael Ricci, an Urasenke instructor in Colorado:

The most two important things about adapting traditional tea ceremony into a different time and culture is balance and non-attachment. You must always respect the tradition as much as possible, but that doesn’t mean adhering to it always. It’s simply impossible to do that and a creative and sensitive person will find ways to make the translation both successful and enjoyable. By being balanced a person will have equal understanding of tradition and change, and by being non-attached a person will have the freedom and ability to make changes where they are needed without causing any kind of disturbance in himself or others.
- Read more:

If you're interested in tea in general, there's lots of other great stuff on the Tea & Travel site too -- go and check it out at