Tea in Nature
Tea is a plant first and foremost. Taking the leaf back to the wild is only right. In many famous depictions of tea drinking in China, the scholars are drinking tea outside. Sometimes They are seen on the bank of a river, at the foot of a waterfall or on top of a mountain.
If the weather is nice enough, there is no reason not to drink tea outside. The fresh air, the birds and the tea itself make for a more complete tea drinking experience.
If you are lucky enough to have a ceramic stove or even a fire pit where you can boil the water with fire, you will find that first cup even more rewarding. In the old days, this was all you had. No electric kettles or gas powered stoves to speed up the process. You had to earn your tea.
Since I got my ceramic kettle and stove, I have been humbled by fire. some days I have luck with the wind and the water boils in 30 mins. Other times I have struggled and waited much longer just for one cup of tea. As I become more comfortable with how the stove functions, I am keeping the boiling time pretty short (relatively compared to electric or gas…)
I found when I boiled water by gas or electric means, I was taking for granted a key part of the tea ceremony. All my attention was into picking the tea and often I was just drinking tea to accompany another task (like writing this blog post while drinking Liu An) instead of the tea BEING my task, my focus. With the ceramic kettle and stove. The fire is the task and tea the reward.When you build the fire to boil water, the tea ceremony begins. Then you set up your tea space. The fire is the task and tea the reward. Tending the fire while setting up the Chaxi helps focus my attention on the particular elements I wish to include.
Being outside, I usually like to incorporate flowers in some way. Wood and stone are also themes to consider. Anything binding to nature will look and feel more complete. Sometimes when I have a really grounded in nature Chaxi I like to add a more “unnatural” element like a porcelain gaiwan or teacup. The contrast makes these beautiful pieces POP out leads the eye.
Some of you may not have a gaiwain, yixing teapot or a chawan. That;s fine (although I encourage everyone to pick up at least one brewing vessel that makes you feel good) Chances are if you are reading this, you probably have at least a mug or some other vessel to consume liquid out of. I assume you can also boil water somehow. Take the freshly boiled water and bring it outside on your porch, deck, lawn, garden, or buy a thermos if you don’t already own one and go to a park.
This new way of tea may invigorate and inspire you, if nothing else at least it will help you think about other cool places to drink tea. You might make a daily or weekly “ritual” out of it. After a week or two I wouldn’t be surprised if you find you brain working on the next level. Not necessarily because of the tea but because of the practice. You’ll get better at brewing tea by caring more about the cup in your hand because it is the focus.
Don’t forget to have fun too, invite some friends, bring some snacks. Tea Picnic! When you’re done you can offer the spent tea leaves to the nearest or favorite tree or blueberry bush!