If you’ve been following my tweet stream lately, you’ll see that I’ve become pretty obsessed with tea. A good friend of mine, earlier this year, invited me over to try “real tea.” At the time, I asked how real tea was different from the loose leaf tea I’d have at a coffeeshop or the tea bags I got from the store? He kind of scoffed, as any tea snob would, and said, “You mean McTea?”
Well, it turns out he was right. After having tea with him a few times, I was hooked. I bought several tea items–including the cups, gaiwan, and bamboo tea table you see in the picture above. I then began drinking Chinese tea, Gung Fu style. And honestly, it’s an amazing experience!
With Chinese tea, prepared in this particular way, you use a large amount of tea leaves, compared to a smaller amount of water and do very fast steeps. A green tea, for instance, would only be steeped for 5-10 seconds before pouring. An Oolong maybe a bit longer. But in both cases you’d be amazed at how good tea can be, with such short steep times. Not only that, but the tea itself changes with each steep. An Oolong can be steeped several times using this method, and each steep will change somewhat, showing another dimension of the tea. That is all to say, goodbye McTea!
Now, my tea obsession got so bad, that I recently decided to do an interview on Buddhist Geeks on the history and significance of tea. And this morning, my interview with Kenneth Cohen (qi-gong master and huge tea geek) went live on Buddhist Geeks. It is entitled, Buddha in a Cup of Tea.
Here’s a little info on the episode:
This week, we’re joined by Kenneth Cohen, a well-known qi-gong master. Along with his training in the Taoist qi-gong and tai chi chuan, Kenneth has a strong connection to the Zen tradition and to the Japanese tea ceremony.
In this episode, he shares with us some of the history of tea (the camellia sinensis plant), its long-standing relationship to the Buddhist tradition, his own training with Japanese tea master Millie Johnstone, and the wonderful profundity of drinking a simple cup of tea.
Finally, if you’re interested in taking your tea drinking to a whole new level, here are some small tips:
- Order your tea and teaware directly from China. There are some really high-quality tea shops that ship directly from China. They tend to be 2-3 times cheaper than US competitors, and are usually selling the exact some stuff. Two of my favorite are: a) Dragon Tea House & b) Yunnan Sourcing.
- If you do order from the stores above, try to contact the seller directly, and ask for “off E Bay pricing”. They’ll be even cheaper, as the seller can sell to you directly, and cross off their extra E-Bay fees. Don’t worry, both are reliable.
- Read a good book on the history of tea. The one I’m reading now is fantastic. It’s entitled, The Story of Tea.
- Try different kinds of tea. White, Green, Oolong, and Pu’erh are all classics. My personal favorites now are Tie Guan Yin (Iron Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe). Both are Oolongs.
- Listen to the podcast episode I did with Kenneth Cohen: Buddha in a Cup of Tea.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some tea to brew!