Tea chan-A A +A
By Betsy Gazo
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
ANYONE who enjoys a cup of tea may want to try tea chan or tea meditation. This tea ceremony allows the participant to set aside some time to relax and be still and take a breather from a harried moment of the day.
Tea chan can help one gain enlightenment. When the mind is at peace, it can think more clearly.
Drinking tea also has health benefits. Try drinking a cup of hot tea when you have a cold. The steam clears nasal cavities, breaks up congestion in the chest, hence allowing one to breathe easier. Meditation has its foundation in breathing.
Green tea is heavy in the compound epigallocatechin gallate, a strong antioxidant that stimulates the immune system to fight disease. The Chinese always says that the second infusion is the best, the third is the second best, the first is the third best, and the fourth is the fourth best. (Tea and Infusions, Jane Pettigrew)
Black tea, which is from the same tea plant as the green, is more oxidized and caffeinated so it is darker than the others because it has the aflavins and thearubigens. It is high in flavanoids, which helps reduce high cholesterol levels.
White tea is either air-dried or gently steamed in a pan instead of undergoing the oxidation process. This way, it loses less of its health benefits. But white tea can be quite expensive and is not too plentiful. Its effectiveness is said to be more superior than the green and that it destroys organisms that cause serious diseases such as pneumonia.
For meditation, the more popular form of tea is loose leaf tea. Compared with bagged tea, loose leaf tea maintains its powerful antioxidants; its natural oils have not been removed in the process of bagging.
At the Fo Guang Shan Yuan Thong Buddhist Temple, a tea chan demonstration was held this month. Tiny porcelain cups and porcelain bowls were set on tiny trays. The cups have been rinsed in hot green tea filling a huge bowl before they were filled with green tea that was brewing in a pot.
To sip, one covers the straight-sided cups with the bowl and inverts this with a quick movement to transfer the tea from cup to bowl. So, one drinks from the bowl and not from the cup. The tea is too hot to drink immediately and this is the time to sit still in silence for a minute or so to let the tea cool a bit. The tiny cup allows one an unhurried pace as one refills and refills it depending on one’s desire for more tea.
The tea the temple brews is usually high quality green tea from Taiwan. This has a pleasant, delicate, floral scent and is seeped for a very short time, around 90 seconds.
There is a proper way to brew tea. For green, bring water to a boil and leave it to cool slightly before pouring it on the leaves. Brewing with boiling water makes green tea bitter. For black and oolong tea, when water is boiling in the kettle, take the teapot to the kettle and pour the boiling water on to the leaves. Put the lid on the pot and allow to infuse. The smaller the pieces of leaf, the quicker the tea will brew. Let oolongs brew longer.
In this day and age, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that one needs to slow down at times. The body, mind and spirit can be overwhelmed by so much activity in a day. That’s why Christians are exhorted to observe the Sabbath to impose rest on the physique and the mind, and restore the spirit. Rest and meditation or prayer are universal needs, whatever one’s religion. The tea chan is just one of the pleasant and refreshing ways to renew one’s self.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 19, 2012.