When you fully engage yourself in what you’re doing with mindfulness everything becomes meditation.
Disclaimer: Tea meditation is part of the Cultural Classes at the Temple. We teach Tea meditation once per month and we get to experience some of the best teas in China.
To do tea meditation, you must do every part of the tea-making and tea-drinking process with mindfulness.
Make your tea with mindfulness- heat your water, get your cup out, pour the water, and sift the tea. Then, take your tea and sit in a quiet place with it. Drink your tea like there’s no tomorrow. Drinking this tea is the most important thing in the world.
Gratitude while having a cup of tea
When I sit down with my tea, after each cup I pour I sit the cup down in front of me, put my hands together, and give thanks for the tea. I bring my awareness to all those people who have to live with the threat of death from dehydration, and all those people who simply don’t have enough. I make sure to first fully respect the tea and express my deep gratitude before drinking it.
After paying my respects to the tea, I simply drink it slowly with mindfulness. I usually drink a few small cups (about 1/4 of one cup at a time), but you can drink however much you’d like. You can shorten the practice down to just 10-15 minutes from start to finish by drinking only one small cup and drinking at a moderately slow pace.
After I’m done, I put my empty cup down in front of me and give thanks once again for the tea. I do this for each cup of tea I drink.
Tea, originally used for medicinal purposes, was born in China some 1800 years ago (about 200 A.D.).
Fast forward a few hundred years and tea had transformed into a popular drink across all of China, at one point being China’s official “national drink”.
Tea fits perfectly in with the life of a Zen monk.
The powerful aroma, calming qualities, and ordinary everyday nature of drinking tea made it an easy inclusion in the daily life of the Zen monk who made it their “life’s mission” to find satori (enlightenment, or sudden awakening) amid typical everyday activities.
Tea then naturally evolved, at least for those students of Zen, into yet another beautiful form of meditation.
“First you must make a delicious bowl of tea; lay the charcoal so the water boils; arrange the flowers as they are in the field; in the summer, suggest coolness. In the winter, warmth; do everything ahead of time; prepare for rain; and give those with whom you find yourself every consideration.”
To do those things ordinarily is easy, but to do them thoroughly with mindfulness and an open heart, that is, to absolutely and completely give every ounce of yourself to the moment of preparing and drinking the tea, and to give yourself entirely to the person with which you were drinking the tea with.
Tea meditation is a perfect example of how you can experience magic in even the most ordinary activities of your everyday life.
Written with Qi by Shifu Shi Yanjun
Shaolin Warrior Monks Head Coach