Around the world, tea is a vessel for many beautiful things that uplift the human spirit. It is appreciated and cherished more than just a drink. Across many cultures and communities, tea has grown with traditions, customs, and even with the shifts in the way of life. From the time it was discovered in China until now, it defies the limits of time and space: it strengthens what is essential.
In China where it was birthed, tea remains to be a great part of their way of life. Families, friends, and individuals hold this sense of oneness as they keep this timeless drink in all the spaces they take up. China’s diverse climate also enables them to grow many varieties of teas: oolong and jasmine as among the most popular.
The art of making tea is deeply linked to Daoism. It is also connected to the greatest Chinese philosophes: balance, harmony, enjoyment, and fulfillment. Moreover, tea culture cultivates community spirit through values. The younger Chinese show respect to the older ones by offering them tea. It is also offered as a sign of apology. For example, when a child committed an offensive act at home, he or she offers tea to the parents to ask for forgiveness. In weddings, the bride serves tea to her groom’s parents and vice versa. This symbolizes their gratitude and respect.
All these ways strengthen what has been observed in the tradition of the community. These moments of intimacy – sharing and offering tea are tender ways of reminding each other why we are all together.
Chanoyu or the way of tea in Japan is a spiritual practice grounded by Zen Buddhism. In the 17th century a Zen monk paved the way to the comingling of tea and spirituality. Tea ceremonies and rituals influenced and inspire many other things connected to them: art, architecture, calligraphy, flower arrangement, tea garden and tea house design. Every detail is in harmony with Zen.
Though tea rituals are now accepted with more liberal ways, the traditional way of tea are still held in traditional tea room. The tea room reflects the austerity of wabi and the philosophy of emptying the self. The authentic tea room is very minimal and highly quiet. The way of tea involves a tea master and his guests. It also encourages presence for each other. The essence of the Japanese tea rituals is “ichi-go, ichi-e” which means each experience must be treasured.
From Europe to the Middle East, tea brings healing for its avid drinkers. So many individuals are developing their personal healing ritual with teas. One of the most common is doing a personal tea time in the morning or some time in the afternoon. Some find a quiet spot in the house and just sip quietly. Others follow a strict self-care ritual – reading an oracle card, journaling, and drinking tea. People from all walks of life embrace healing habits of tea that suit their needs.
Indeed, tea flows through us beyond the cup we hold. Its magic is passed on from one person to the next in many ways. Be part of our ever-growing community that nourishes community, spirituality and healing!