In my reading, I am coming to new realizations of the history of tea. Tea and Buddhism, began to be completely linked, so much so, that while Buddhism thrived, so did tea, but after rulers changed, or Buddhism fell out of favor, the consumption of tea also decreased. In Korea, it was so closely linked that tea houses often had stone Buddhist figures in their environment.
What’s interesting to me about this isn’t specifically in Buddhism, but in the context of the use of tea. It was used as a medicine, and in Tibet was used specifically as a nutritional supplement, combined with Yak milk and fortifying ingredients that were vital to the survival of the people. It was also, moreover, which is well known, used in meditation to increase alertness. And what really interests me is something I read about the experience of tea seen as a mirror of the harmony of the universe.
That sits in such contrast to my use of coffee in the recent past. I used coffee almost entirely as an aid to speed up my work ability and focus me on writing and design tasks. But having let go of it, I am finding that my focus is much more expansive, than in the single mindedness of the effect of coffee. The realization of the harmony of tea is something I am only realizing as I explore it with a sense of being open to new ideas. I was so fast with coffee. I am more thoughtful with tea.
There is a carefulness, an openness, in the way I am experiencing tea. After I read about the harmony of the universe in regard to tea, I slowed down and really relaxed as I moved about my daily activities. It may be the best mindfulness aid I have ever had. It increased mindful thought in all of my actions.
When I started drinking coffee, when I was a high school student, it was absolutely used in the context of art and poetry, but in a more frenetic way. Coffee was a way for me to make what I now see as unfocused art. My strategy was to drink a ton of coffee, and just start drawing or painting wild, yet derivative scenes that had no real intention, but were just expressionist and early attempts at making a color language.
I now have a more complex relationship with the quality of line and color theory, which I use often both in art and design. I have studied for years. It can be free and open, but it’s always intentional. I think the use of tea will amplify those considerations.
I also am finding that I can think in a way that is not single minded, but has a wider net of considerations and influences that impact both my art practice and design, and also in a more general sense, my perspectives. This is the beginning of a new process of growth that I did not expect. Tea can be used for any purpose, but this ability created by tea to create an alert, careful, and more holistic perspective is a beautiful experience, and I am so happy to discover tea, really for the first time.