"As with wine, tea terminology can get flowery and high-flown, but the last thing we at Teanamu want is to promote any kind of tea snobbery." --- Pei Wang, Owner Teanamu Chaya Tea House
Me. There. 2014. photo by Mel Maison
My favorite tea house on the planet is Teanamu Chaya Tea House located in the Shepard’s Bush neighborhood of London. Though it has been nearly five years since I have been there, I daydream about it almost every day. The tea is exceptional as is the food paired with the tea - wakame seaweed brown bread open sandwiches, dim sum, sweets, and pâtisserie.
Owner and tea artisan Pei Wang considers the gong fu cha tea ritual central to his lifestyle.
“Brewing tea is pressing a pause button in a stressful life, taking a few minutes to be in the present, attend to the tea leaves 'dancing' in their teapot and enjoy the calm, focused, meditative state that we need for social, emotional, physical, spiritual and mental wellbeing.”
Pei also takes the tea ritual out into unlikely, busy, spaces for what he calls medTEAtation.
This tea ritual requires good weather and an lovely setting where tea lovers can gather. I will be practicing this tea ritual in the spring and summer with others of my tea community on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Let me know if you want to participate. We will meet at a local park. Each of us will bring a thermos of newly boiled water, tea leaves, and four teacups.
Here is the ritual as Pei describes it on the Teanamu’s Chaya Tea House website:
The concept of medTEAtation is a collaborative, harmonious meditation over tea.
You sit in a circle and perform your own silent tea ritual. The object is to make 4 cups of tea, one for each of your 3 neighbors to the left plus a cup for yourself. In turn, you receive 3 cups of tea from your 3 neighbors to your right. The ritual is repeated silently 3 or 4 times, as further infusions of tea are brewed. The circle may comprise any number of participants, from 3 or 4 up to a thousand!
We pay respectful homage to the origins of medTEAtation in the Wu Wo Tea Ceremony devised by our honored teacher Prof. Tsai Rong Tsang, Dean of Tea Culture at TenFu Tea Institute in Fujian Province, China. Wu (无)means ‘nothingness’, ‘absence’, ‘void’, ’empty’ and ‘infinite’. Wo (我) means ‘I’, ‘self’ or ‘being’. Together, these characters signify ‘being without attachment’.
The emphasis in medTEAtation is on simplicity, frugality, appreciation of natural beauty and creativity.
A minimum of a structure is pre-planned, within which you each brew and serve tea in your own way at your own pace yet moving with the whole group toward the same goal and together appreciating the same principles of equality, simplicity, and harmony.
In experiencing the restorative benefits of complete silence, while brewing and serving a natural, healthy pot of tea in a harmonious and beautiful group setting, you’ll find a graciousness that is rare and hard to express. Prof. Tsang has likened the effect to natural phenomena such as the rainbow, where different colors combine to form a brilliant light, as well as the inexorable changing of the seasons."