There are a number of tea ceremonies from cultures around the world that are well-known–Japanese, Chinese, and British to name a few. You may not think yours is very spiritual. But it can be, not because of the tradition necessarily, but because of the tea included in it your highest truth.
Here in the West you’re probably familiar with the English Teatime traditions. Paradoxically, “High Tea” was a break in the afternoon of the lower classes and “Low Tea” was a high-class affair.
These English rituals usually include flowery teacups and other accoutrements. They may seem more material in focus than anything sacred. And the social gathering may have seemed typically for no better purpose than idle chatter or gossip.
But there was never a substitute for genuine tea for the past few hundred years of the history of the tea breaks for the Brits. And true progress ensured that everyone, regardless of class, could enjoy cups of authentic tea.
The Chinese tea ceremonies are known as “Gong Fu” which is the same word as the familiar “Kung Fu.” No, it doesn’t translate into fighting over tea! Rather, the peaceful event is aptly named by this word which means the attaining of highest mastery.
Mastery for the Chinese with tea is all about getting the most flavor and aroma (and color) out of each cup of tea. It’s done with specific rules of preheating the pots, rinsing the leaves briefly, and using large portions of tea steeped for quite short amounts of time.
Isn’t this sensual instead of spiritual? You might judge so. It’s all about delighting the senses and no ascetic virtues are fitting here at all. But again, the spiritual achievement for the Chinese was in their love for the tea, for which in exchange the divine was imparted unto them.
The Japanese Tea Ceremony is famous for being truly spiritual, and is even called a religion. It’s the only one that’s obviously saintly but all the other cultures also celebrate the spirituality of tea because they include the actual heavenly herb itself.
The Americans only have those traditions they’ve borrowed from others like the English. This is changing, though, as many of them are falling in love with tea for its healthy mind, body, and spirit benefits. In America the young are into tea these days, and this bodes well for its future.