PureInsight | June 4, 2002
The taste is rich and the aroma lasts forever.
The way leading to intoxication
Is the most enjoyable state,
Just like an old friend returning home
From thousands of miles away --
Sitting face to face under a lamp,
Seeing the shadows close up,
Only happiness known in both hearts.
The above is a poem from the Song dynasty. Tea is a beverage that clears hearts and minds and improves concentration. It integrates the essences of customs, water systems, and the mountains of a specific locale. Tea is the water of the soul that one shares with close friends. I know the luster of tea, the customs, the charm, and the subtlety of tea. Actually, I don’t really know the soul of tea. Like human beings, tea also has sentiments like happiness, anger, sadness, and joy as well as many attachments. Tea is like a mirror; the taste of tea can reflect people’s emotions and thoughts. Reflecting on tea inspired me to write:
Returning home last night,
The expected one absent,
I drank my good tea alone
And found it tasted like wine.
While wine can wreck your heart
When filled with sadness,
Tea tastes more bitter
When friends are absent.
A sensitive heart tastes the soul of the tea. When drinking tea with a clean and quiet heart, the tea reflects the gradual disappearance of sentiments. The soul of tea is the heart of discovery. If you see your heart, you see the life of the tea. Tasting tea during a time of separation, I understood the soul of tea more deeply.
You may also look inward at your heart where you store your private thoughts. The deeper meaning of the tea ceremony is “discovering the Dao.” Through the spirit of the tea ceremony, people detect their inner souls. This is also a way of cultivation. If the soul is clear, the taste of the tea is pure. Make a pot of tea with a compassionate heart, offer it to your guests, and let them check their inner hearts. This is civilization at its best.
Tea culture has lasted several thousands years in China. Modern people know tea for its healthful properties and beauty, its peacefulness and lovely mood. However, the profound meaning of the tea ceremony is the main reason for its longevity.
This article expresses my personal insights regarding the meaning of the ancient traditions of tea. Please compassionately point out any mistakes.