Three steeps of how it feels
I was sitting at a table outside, at a retreat center in France, with just about an hour left before I had to travel to Paris to catch a flight back to the states. After travel, rigorous retreat and some late nights with friends, I was a bit sluggish. I walked over to a little cobblestone wall that was more secluded, pulled out my gaiwan, cup and thermos and had started steeping some san lin she.
It turns out that three steeps of highmountain oolong was just the medicine I needed. I felt strong and ready for the day.
I wanted to share more about the way I drink tea, what is really my focus, which naturally ends up being my barometer for the teas I curate as well. I of course enjoy eccentricities, stories, rarities of all kinds. I enjoy surprising and complex or surpising flavors. In the end, the way I experience tea, and choose what is really stellar and worth sharing is by how a tea makes me feel with three steeps of gong fu cha.
In the morning, with the sun rising in the sky, behind the clouds, or still under the horizon, I feel that I would like a little bit of tea to give me that same rising energy to meet the day. In the early afternoon, when I'm feeling ready for a nap, I want a tea that is centering and will let me go with that energy of relaxation and retreat, while nourishing me enough to stay attentive during those sleepy hours. And in the late afternoon, I want an expansive tea that let's my consciousness play, and helps me to meet the evening's activities with openness and creativity.
When I can, I like to have the space to sit relatively uninterrupted for three steeps. This might be a luxury you have every day, while for others it could be a weekend morning that they find the moment. With three steeps, I can feel the building cumulative effect of the tea session. In the morning, with a good high mountain oolong, it is like building one layer upon another of fortitude for the day. A white peony in the early morning feels more like successively clearing out the channels, or the cobwebs behind my eyes and in my circulatory system. Each tea is different, and each situation, time of day, etc.
This is not exactly revolutionary, as people have always enjoyed tea for its effects. That's the main draw. Some people do talk about flavor profiles, which is fine. In my life, the drinking of tea cannot be separated from the rest of the day, in particular when I drink to, how I feel entering the tea session, and how I feel during the tea session, and how I feel after the tea session. With the barometer of my own health practice, I see how three steeps effects body and mind, and helps me harmonize with the time of day, or season.
Paying attention to my own feeling of the tea becomes and equal part of the journey of gong-fu cha, making multiple steeps to notice how the tea changes, and in my case, how I change. So there is a great interplay.
I recommend bringing this same kind of perspective to drinking the teas I provide. That way you can glimpse of my inspiration for choosing a tea or join me in that realm or facet of appreciating tea.
You can get a sense for the basics of this style of drinking with the staples in the Daoist Cupboard, or journey along with me into a more varied tea experience with the subscription.
You may have seen me serving tea at one of the Daoist lifestyle programs where I first learned the concept of harmonizing with the seasons of the day through tea appreciation. With the teas recommended from those classes populating the Daoist Cupboard, I use my own experimentation to open into a wider world of tea for my subscribers, while still curating through the lens of Daoist practices of health and balance.