Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Green Tea and Ceremony

I drink a crap load of green tea, daily. In fact if I think about it, I’ve consumed litres upon litres of the stuff over the last 7 or so years. So I did a little digging and found a few Green Tea facts that will hopefully convert you – if you aren’t a subscriber already!

Chinese legend holds that in 2737 B.C Emperor Shen Nung was boiling water when leaves from a nearby tree blew into his pot. He was amazed with its beautiful smell and taste. Later in 800 A.D Buddhist monks returned from China to Japan bringing with them Green Tea. Green Tea is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis, that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing which is why it is more special than your average black or oolong varieties. The leaves are steamed, which prevents the EGCG compound (below) from being oxidized - so it's purer.

Technical Stuff
Green Tea is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful anti-oxidant: besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. There are also links between the amount of Green Tea consumed and the ability to stimulate fat oxidization leading to weight loss, reducing the chance of heart disease and even promoting healthy teeth and gums (according to new studies).

Ceremony and Spirituality
Green Tea is beneficial in more ways than purely physical. The Japanese have a traditional Green Tea Ceremony that has been practiced for thousands of years and the theory behind it is quite beautiful and incidentally fits nicely into my spiritual journey theme that is starting to develop on my gorgeous blog!

Tea ceremony developed as a "transformative practice", and began to evolve its own aesthetic, in particular that of wabi. Wabi, meaning quiet or sober refinement, or subdued taste, is characterized by humility, restraint, simplicity, naturalism, profundity, imperfection, and asymmetry [emphasizing] simple, unadorned objects and architectural space, and [celebrating] the mellow beauty that time and care impart to materials.

The ceremony itself is a sequence of movements, ritualistic cleansing of the tea making utensils and the slow practiced preparation of the tea itself which is a powdered tea called 'matcha'. Each movement has a specific purpose for instance there are movements incorporated to move the sleeves of the kimono aside for pouring.

The ceremony recognises that every human encounter is a singular occasion that will never recur again in exactly the same way, and so every aspect of the tea ceremony is savored. This is such a beautiful sentiment, meditative and Zen.

There isn't much of an oportunity to attend such a ceremony in Brisbane, I think there may be a haven in the Gold Coast hinterland that provides lessons on the art.
Meanwhile, I have my own tea rituals. Each morning I make myself a cup of 'greenie' and go sit and chat with my mum around her fish pond while she feeds pellets almost directly into the mouths of her goldfish! Then around 10:30am at work I go get a green tea in my 'L' cup (L standing for Lovely of course) and I will usually close out my day with a lovely cup of a concoction I picked up at Perfect Potion to promote sweet dreams.

So there's my tea and ceremony.

1 comment:

  1. oooo we should go to one of the tea houses in Sunnybank! I've only been once and the ritual wasn't as beautiful or meditative as you describe but the ladies do have a ritual of washing the utensils etc before they pour it for you and they have a great selection...