Tea and mediation

I grew up in China with tea being a food and a way of life. There is even a term for it: 口粮茶 – staple tea.

I have however often wondered as why tea is associated with meditation and other spiritual practices, in the past and today, China and abroad. After some reading recently, the connection is clear.

Tea and Buddhist diet

tea and buddha monkBuddhism was first introduced to China during the Han Dynasty and meditation was part of the core practice. Buddhist monks mediated for long periods day and night. Their diet was constituted of vegetarian and none-alcoholic ingredients. Tea was considered to be an essential for the purpose of enhancing the alertness during the meditation, health and well being and even long longevity by many Buddhist monks.

High mountain green teas

After the Buddhism was first introduced to China, the religion was flourishing and many temples were built on remote high mountains as a way of 'entering' an elevated spiritual space. The monks would immediately clear the land around the temples and start cultivating to generate the means for survival in such remote places. Tea was one of the essentials.

For example:

Lu Shan (Mt Lu) of the Jiang-Xi Province was once a major Buddhist centre. The famous Chinese green tea Lu Shan Yun Wu (Mt Lu misty green) is believed to be a speciality of a temple in Mt Lu, where the famous Buddhist monk Hui-Yuan lived for 30 years.

Tea’s other connections to Buddhism and Buddhist activities

  1. The most known tea legend Lu Yu was raised in a temple as an orphan since he was 3 years old
  2. The green tea seeds were first brought to Japan in 805 AD by a Japanese monk Zui-Cheng upon his return from a visit to the Chinese tramples. This marked the beginning of the Japanese green teas

Tea is truly a fascinating product. Its historical significance is far beyond a merely daily beverage.

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A cup of black tea for morning kick start

Coffee consumption has been such a phenomenonChinese black tea in the world that many are now depending on it for a morning ‘kick start’ of the day.

For health concerns, some are now trying to switch to a cup of black tea. Questions like ‘I am looking for a good strong black tea to replace my morning coffee’ have been asked repeatedly.

I was a morning coffee drinker like the rest of population until one day not long ago I discovered not only I was not getting the expected ‘kick start’ effect due to long term consumption and desensitisation, I actually acquired a secondary condition called ‘coffee headache’ when I missed a ‘dose’. (I dropped the cup and joined some friends for a bush walk one day and had a throbbing headache all day as there was not coffee available in the bush.)

I decided to give up coffee completely and started drinking black tea in the morning. The black I have enjoyed most for the purpose is the Organic Souchong. It has a full body flavour, fragrant and yet gentle on stomach.

Many of our customers have tried out other black teas. In summary, it is quite possible to replace your morning coffee with a strong cup of black tea. 

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More than a cup of tea

I have recently read an article about a tea house, a quiet and unique tea house that does not even have a signage, neatly tucked away in a leafy street somewhere among the thousands of Starbucks cafes sprouting up around it. The small tea house under the three aged purple vines is however where the local artists, writers and philosophers gather - their spiritual oasis.

Chinese tea houseHere is what is says:

With a sip of GOOD tea, eyes shut and soul cleaned;
Have a dialogue with the forest where the tea grew, and the workers who harvested the tea;
Time seems to be remote, same as the buzzy world around;
Leave the ups and downs of life aside and simply enjoy the world of a pot of tea.

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