Taking Tea & Making Meaning – The Way Tea Ceremony Brings Us Together

Incense burns. A single scroll resides in a modest alcove with a flower to compliment it. But for the whoosh of the bamboo whisk, the room is silent. A bowl is placed in front of you.

You pick up the bowl, turn it in your hand, take a sip of the tea, and pass it to the next person. As the matcha travels down your gullet, you taste the complexities of the fine tea powder. The person next to you experiences the same sensation in turn, and for a brief time you are connected.

You do not acknowledge the connection, but it is felt by each of you. In the silence of the room, in the presence of your host and one another, with the tea flowing through each of you, you have found a cause for union. The tea has brought you together, and together you will savor it before parting ways once again.

This is the essence of Tea Ceremony

I have attended Tea Ceremonies before, and for me each of them were potent sensory experiences. Particularly during my second one, I found myself truly living in the moment, even if only briefly.

As the ceremony unfolded, I experienced each of the five senses in a serenely visceral fashion. Seated in seiza, the traditional Japanese fashion, I lost feeling in my legs. Incense brought forth the smells of winter flowers. The sound of the wooden whisk in the bowl shattered the silence of the room. As I watched my friend, JP Wojciechowski, make the tea, I wondered at the intricacies of the techniques.

And when the tea was finally placed in front of me, I tasted the matcha and savored the complex notes as if I were drinking a finely aged Scotch.

It was a truly unique experience, and it’s one that I …continue reading