top of page

Drinking tea as meditation practice

The heart is the seat for our soul, the mind is home for a whirlwind of thoughts. Drinking tea temples mind and heart allowing the soul to brighten up.

This is a daily practice at the monastic centers from the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. In this article we share our experience drinking tea as a meditation practice and we would like to offer some advises for your own practice.

Hojas de qingxin Wulong, Lishan, Taiwan

The biggest gift from tea is the experience of drinking it

Discovered thousands of years ago in China, tea has been used by humans in a variety of ways and with multiple purposes, but there is one thing that has remained the same, tea continues to be a balm for the mind which lets us stop and look at ourselves profoundly.

Zhao Zhao, Taichung City, Taiwan
Zhao Zhao, Taichung City, Taiwan

Silence... contemplation...

Even in never-stopping asian cities, the quite and contemplative tea houses have a privilege space.

Tea is at the center of the experience, all senses aim to receive the goodness of this beverage and to add them into the body, mind and heart.

The mind, senses and tea

Some time ago we paid a visit to Zhao Zhao, a tea house in the center of Taichung, which has a pleasant Zen atmosphere. Here you will find peace and relaxation for your senses... and rest for your mind.

Entering Zhao Zhao...

Each of our senses wakes up from their slumber, the day has gone by fast, we have pay them little attention.

We choose a table, sit down quietly, our minds understand the message. We order our favorite tea from the menu.

Upon receiving the tea, sight begins to awake... such a beautiful color perceive our eyes; a deep and bright golden color, filled up with vitality, we can even see trichomes released by the youngest leaves and buds; and now the mind wonders what else are we going to discover in this beverage. We have all it's attention.

After sight comes touch, our fingers go slowly to hold the cup, which is smooth and soft, comfortable and warm, it has been carefully chosen for this tea. We hold it with both hands, this is the gesture to bring together mind and heart, to temple thought and senses.

Each step a little bit deeper in this experience.

Cata de té negro
Iris catando té

Hands bring our tea closer to the face, smell investigates a little bit further. Aromas travel through the nostrils, mind gets busy trying to associate them to known past experiences. This is a tast she loves to do, what did she discover? ... mild aromas, flowers, bakery, maybe warm butter... can you guess which tea is it?

Senses are awake, ready to take part, they all want to taste the tea. Mind gives them more space to just be themselves.

Since sight received the first colors and textures of the tea, mouth was preparing herself to drink it, to taste it. Through the nostrils entered aromas which activated the salivary glands, which aromas and flavors are we going to discover? will they be similar to the ones discovered by smell?

When holding your cup of tea, maybe you want to breathe in to bring back mind to body ⏤ Thich Nhat Hanh

First sip, taste, sweet flavors, velvety feel. The mind is focused and free from chains to mundane noise.

Second sip, smell was right, the aromas perceived by our nose before are similar to the ones released in the mouth.

Both, smell and taste, working together with a common goal, transmit their perceptions to the mind to decipher every detail from the tea, a perfect teamwork.

The experience of drinking tea, simple and profound, extends throughout a necessary pause in our day. Now with the mind calm, heart can relax itself, both dancing at the same beat. The biggest gift is to be able to look at ourselves, to feel ourselves, leave outside what belongs outside to appreciate the intimacy of our being.

The greatest gift from tea is the experience to drink it.

Tea temperance

Maybe one of the biggest reasons why tea is drank all over the world and has survived over millennia, it's how well Caffeine and L-Theanine coexist inside these leaves. This is a gentle yet powerful combination that keeps us focused and calm while drinking tea.

A great tea, in my opinion, is one that brings calmness to mind, body and heart. Is a tea that we can enjoy both with physical senses like how we describe earlier, and also with subtle senses derived from deep observation and feel from the mind, not the rational calculating mind, but the "mind-heart" described by ancient civilizations. Like the chinese character 心 (Xin) which can be translated literally as the physical heart as well as to describe de mind.

Tea awakens the mind, calms down the heart and opens the door to experience the soul ⏤ JTES

Meditation and tea

To meditate is to be conscious of the present moment, there is not much more to explain, just to experiment.

In words of brother Phap Dung from the Thich Nhat Hanh tradition:

Just like he mentions, drinking tea can be a profound experience if we let it.

We prepare it in little teapots and drink it in even smaller cups.

Preparing whole leaves tea, we get the chance to fully appreciate them, to feel the leaves. Drinking it in small cups, we are forced to stop, this way we tell the mind is time for a pause.

Stopping and performing this actions slowly, all our being is focused on the experience of contemplating and drinking tea.

We recommend you to watch the video from brother Phap Dung and to listen to the episode "Are you truly there for a cup of tea?", part of the podcast "The way out is in". We also recommend you to read other blog posts from Cha Dao - El camino del té.

Gongfu Cha and meditation

Gongfu Cha

Preparing tea Gongfu style is in essence a meditative practice. Just like we mentioned before, we use small sized accessories and abundant quantity of tea leaves.

We prepare multiple infusions from the same leaves, which wait in hot water for about 30-45 seconds. When it's ready, we drink the tea sip by sip, enjoying every second of this intimate encounter with our favorite beverage.

This practice is ancient, since it's beginning in China, then developing further in Japan and finally merge with other cultures in Taiwan.

If you want to share your experience on preparing tea, we can chat in the comments below.

See you soon :)

5 views0 comments


bottom of page