Friday, August 10, 2012


"Tea is not but this.
First you make the water boil,
Then infuse the tea.
Then you drink it properly.
That is all you need to know."

Utterly simple yet complicated. I have been pondering over these few short lines from Sen Rikyu for a while now and concluded a few things.

As easy as the topic on tea may sound, there are a few preparatory steps that culminate in the final enjoyment of tea: a good understanding of the kind of water you need and how to bring it to a boil, a careful selection of the teaware that you find most suitable for the tea that you will brew and the interaction between your five senses and tea.

Once a certain person came to Rikyu and asked him what were the mysteries of Tea. "You place the charcoal so that the water
boils properly, and you make the tea to bring out the proper taste. You arrange the flowers as they appear when they are
growing. In summer you suggest coolness and in winter cosiness.
There is no other secret," replied the Master. 

From here, I am beginning to see how great tea masters worthy of their salt use layman's language to convey a deeper, underlying message. What beginners perceive to be menial tasks of boiling water, infusing, pouring and drinking tea can be translated into bringing water to a sufficient boil without depleting its oxygen content, infusing tea adequately, knowing when tea is ready to be served and appreciating the beverage.

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