There’s a lot about the why tea ceremony in the website, this is a very basic “starter guide” for making your own Tea ceremony.
It’s not meant to be complete or very technical (focuses more on the meditation aspect of Tea). If you have no idea where to start or if you know how to steep Tea but want to make it more “meditative” it’ll be useful.
- Find at least 1 hour (ideally 1h30/2h) where you can not be disturbed
- Clear one area to drink Tea as best as you can, the least objects and mess you can see, the calmer your mind would be. I find symmetry, beauty and empty space very conductive to deeper sits
- Sit in a comfortable position you keep for some time, can be on a meditation mat or on a chair with a table in front of you
- Try to eliminate distractions, phone completely off and outside the room, tell your loved ones not to disturb, tv/radio off (some soothing instrumental low-energy music may or may not help)
- You can bring your electric kettle near you so that you don’t have to get up (you will need hot water throughout the session), a thermos could also work (an infrared hotplate with a clay or silver kettle on top is best). For aged puerh we sell, you’ll generally be brewing it at 100c
- Put around 5g of tea (per person) into a teapot (or gaiwan). Porcelain is a bit better than glass (retains heat better), good clay is best but not so easy to find a clay that’s definitely free from chemicals.
- Cup wise you can use anything (that doesn’t impart too much extra flavour to the Tea), but ideally empty your teapot at once (otherwise the tea oversteeps), if your cup(s) are too small for this, consider buying a small glass pitcher (£5-10 from amazon) to “decant” your Tea in.
- Here is some basic kit to start
- First pour boiling water in the teapot, and immediately discard this first “wash”, this is both to open the Tea and cleaning it from dust
- Then start steeping the Tea, at first make very fast infusions (few seconds), then if the Tea feels weak slowly increase the infusion time (at the end can be minutes assuming your teapot won’t let the tea get too cold)
- With this setup and this amount of tea (assuming your teapot is not too big) you can get 10+ infusions before it starts being way too weak, and these can be spaced out by a few minutes each. This is a very good way to do a tea ceremony, with smaller amounts of tea over time you can both appreciate the changes and also helps being more concentrated if your mind tend to wander
- If you already have a solid meditation practice already you might want to have fewer more concentrated (and/or with less time in between) steepings and then just sit like a rock for the rest of the session
- Congratulations, all the “hard” work is done, now just relax and start watching your breath. Good Tea should really help you concentrate, this is a very easy way of telling tea quality actually: “Do I notice a significant deepening in concentration and/or insight when I’m drinking it (in silence with no distractions)”?.
- If you find yourself thinking, no worries, slowly come back to the breath and the experience of the Tea, the mind will think, there’s nothing wrong with that, don’t scold yourself for it, just gently come back to the breath and the experience in your mouth and body and around you.
- I like to try to keep my tea taste to being strong and noticeable but without any overwhelming astringency or bitterness. You achieve this with a combination of steeping time, heat, amount of tea in teapot and teapot size (and it’s also dependent on which steeping you are in the session of course), experiment to find out what works best for you!
- A thick liquid in the mouth feels satisfying, as is an after taste the remains for long in both the mouth and in the cup (you can smell it after drinking). You can try to see if you perceive these two aspects in your Tea. Good quality Tea will have it, however if it’s not prepared in a somewhat skilled way, you may not notice them.
- Eating a bit earlier (or later) will help settle the stomach in case you brewed some too-strong puerh. However eating during a tea ceremony tends to “kill the qi” (because food is so strong compared to Tea, it’s harder to feel the tea effects), so I wouldn’t recommend it.
In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have a day job and I’d make a nice video with all the kit. In this world however, you have to wait for it 😉 In an even more ideal world, you’d live near Brighton and come see me and we drink Tea together and that tells much more.