Here is another excerpt from The Wild Tea Hunter – my book about my adventures hunting tea in China. This one is about Buddhist Tea Culture. Enjoy!
Along my travels in Guangdong Province, my good dear friend Chen brought me to have tea with the Buddhists at a beautiful Buddhist Temple deep in the mountains of Chaozhou. The temple was a quiet and serene place with thin forest all around and mountains as far as the eye could see. We went through a series of huge rooms filled with colorful Buddhist statues that some monks were kneeled down praying to. The thick scent of aromatic incense filled the air everywhere, bringing a sort of mystical feeling to us.
As we walked through the various temples on the property we eventually came to a large area outside filled with statues and in the center was a giant brown tea table carved out of wood. There stood several monks dressed in yellow and brown robes. Smiling they asked us to sit down for tea. We gladly accepted their offer. There they taught us their tea ceremony.
One of the monks was in charge of brewing tea, while another managed the water. The other was responsible for getting tea. They seemed as though they all had a specific role planned out. They were all so quiet, paying attention to such great detail of every movement during the ceremony.
It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.
One of the monks handed me a small white ceramic scoop with the dried tea leaves inside. It was clearly artisan oolong tea as it leaves were expertly rolled and the leaves were all in tact. The leaves had colors of black, brown and green running through and were long, thin and twisted. They smelled of lightly roasted peach and nutty oolong tea.
I felt a light breeze coming from my left to which was a thin pine forest set against the mountains. The scent of pine trees mixed with incense filled my nostrils. One of the monks gently handed me a warm round teacup filled with fresh brewed local oolong tea they had grown. The liquor was a golden light brown color. The brew had a sweet roasted peachy scent that filled my nostrils. Every movement, every scent, brought me into each new moment filled with fresh clarity and awareness. I envied these monks lives.
As we left one of the female monks handed me a gift of a bracelet made out of a brownish red translucent stone. She said if I carried it with me, it would bring me good karma as this bracelet has good karma with it. Four years later I still carry this bracelet with me to this day on all my travels.
As we left the temple, I sat back and reflected on the beauty of such a peaceful and simple existence their lives were like. I wondered at how the complexity that we add to our own lives has taken us away from enjoying the simple beauties of life as I pondered my time having tea with the Buddhists in Chaozhou.
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