ちゃしつ … The Tea Room ( Part 1 … The Discipline … of Tea)

“Tea tempers the spirit
and harmonizes the mind …
and clears the perceptive faculties.

The refreshing nature of tea …
is especially fitting
for persons of self restraint …

for those who are virtuous in nature
and satisfied with a simple life.”

Such were the sentiments of Lu Yu,
when writing his treatise on tea
– chájīng – The Classic of Tea,
somewhere around 780 AD.

お ちゃ … Tea

From possessions, to professions,
to pets and pastimes … everything, it seems,
is now used as a Vanity tool to dominate
and degrade others,

which is why conscience has always
prevented me from agreeing to teach,
when asked, even the rudiments
of the martial art that I practice.

What I HAD always offered … was
to teach … The Way of Tea.

Offering to teach TEA to those
who inquired about Martial Arts
invariably insured that those who asked,
would immediately make themselves scarce.

Tea … is about extending HOSPITALITY

… seeking the best interests of a Guest,
and taking infinite care to Serve
someone else.

A self centred, domineering thug
will never discern the relationship
– the significance between Tea
… and learning.

Those who possess Self Discipline, Patience,
and a Meticulous Nature, demonstrate
the humility of character that is required

in a person who actually deserves
to be taught anything
that might give them privilege or power
over other people.

Give a savage power … and he or she will use it
to further Greed, Ego, and Personal Agenda.
Which is precisely why the 21st century
is the immoral, vicious, and vulgar Age that it is.

No mature, responsible man or woman
gives a bad-tempered, ill-disciplined,
emotional ‘child’

the ability to harm or dominate anyone.

Those who have no interest in cultivating the
gentility required for tea … or gardening,
are of no interest to me as students –
– their sincerity is clearly lacking.

A Tea Gathering demands
Self Discipline,
Patience, and a
Meticulous Nature –

it requires someone who aspires to
Refinement,
Etiquette, and appreciates bestowing
Hospitality upon others.

That desire to extend Self-LESS consideration
toward others
will transfer over to the daily aspects
of an individual’s life:

the way they speak,
the way they dress,
the way they handle their (or others’) possessions.

Qualities that are observably absent
in the aggressive and slovenly example
provided by the generality of ‘men’
and the women who strive to imitate them.

Those who Make The Time
to appreciate tea from fine tea cups …

value tea for the occasion
it provides to Contemplate alone,
or extend Cordiality to others:

qualities, both, that are diametrically opposed
to the frenetic madness of the world at large,
that mindlessly rushes to gratify vanity,
hedonism, and greed at every opportunity.

Gentility.
Hospitality.
Contemplative Thought.

Tea … is all these things.

Tea … it is the Period of Time when
the tea is being enjoyed,
that is meaningful to me.

It may be that you think similarly.

I hope that, in presenting the qualities
of real tea, I can encourage one or two people
to slow down and … MAKE time to:

prepare tea;
and take ten minutes out of each day
for thoughtful reflection …

“How have I lived my life ?
What example has my life been to those
who have known me ?
Lying on my death bed, will I regret
how I have used the time given me in this life ?”

Tea (for me) is the act of meditating upon
what – honestly – is important in life.

I hope that this series of thoughts about tea
may interest one or two folk enough that they
will Take The Time to isolate themself
from the mental and moral sewage of the TV
– or the mindless noise of the radio,

and set aside part of a day to pause,
and … think.

P Livingstone
philiplivingstone.org

ちゃしつ … The Tea Room (Part 2 … Black Tea)

A Taste for Tea

こう ちゃ … Black Tea (or, Red Tea, if referring to the infusion)

Refreshment,
Consolation,
Ceremony …

Black Tea is all of these things to me.

It has mingled with my tears,
lifted me from exhaustion,
and made happy moments memorable.

Appreciated throughout the day,
it is the one thing in life of which
I would not want to imagine being without.

BLACK TEA is the most oxidized tea.

Having the most intense (or, strongest) flavour
of all the teas, it alone goes well with milk.

To prepare Black tea, use one spoonful
of quality tea for each person
and another half ‘for the pot’,

Pour in – to about three-quarters’ full –
PROPERLY boiling water

( that is to say, on a ‘rolling boil’ – and NOT
the appalling North American practice
of hot bilge water stewing in an electric urn !!! )

Allow a 3 minute brew time,
add a splash of skim milk,
and cherish the perfect cup of tea.

For me, Black Tea is a principle of daily life:
to temporarily lessen the affliction of sad memories
and duplicitous humanity,

Black Tea is a genuine medicine
and the only true … Cup of Tea.

Look for names like Assam, Ceylon, Yunnan,
… and Keemun, which is the traditional ‘British’
cup of tea.

A Tea SAMPLE …

1. Orange Pekoe

Slightly stronger than commercial
offerings) this is a ‘straight’ blend of Assam
and Ceylon Orange Pekoe Tea,
whose taste is smoothed wonderfully
with the addition of skim milk.

This is a blend that provides a “real” cup
of “British” tea …

2. Strawberry Tea

Ceylon and Keemun black teas
care combined with dried Strawberry pieces
to provide a medium-strength tea that requires
an extra minute in the teapot to deliver
an incredibly refreshing cup of tea.

3. Blackcurrant Tea

Blended and mixed with dried blackcurrants
and garnished with blue cornflower (centaurea cyanus),
this offering provides a medium-strength
cup of tea with a hint of blackcurrant taste.

4. Raspberry Tea

The addition of red cornflower petals
only adds to the charm of this wonderful blend
of black tea and raspberry leaf.

An extra minute of brewing time is required
to draw out the raspberry flavour
for an extraordinary cup of tea.

5. Orange Spice

Special occasions only … this exotic blend
of tea combines Ceylon and Keemun teas
with cloves and dried orange peel.

6. Rose-scented Tea

Congou tea from China is not flavoured
at all by the addition of dried rose petals,
which provide a mild cup of tea with the
blissfully sedative aroma of garden roses.

I hope that the photographs and thoughts here
may encourage one or two visitors to this site
to develop an interest in the refinement of tea

… and, in taking time to savour and share its taste,
become everything that the 21st century

is not.

P Livingstone
philiplivingstone.org

ちゃしつ … The Tea Room (Part 3 … Indispensable Instruments of Infusion)

Indispensable Instruments of Infusion

For those who might be new to the concept of Real Tea,
a brief over-view of the items that are needed
to infuse quality Black tea …

1. Kettle

Boiling the water – for the ‘British’
method of brewing,
water should come off a rolling boil,
and will be around the 95 degree mark
when it hits the tea leaves.

2. A Quality Tea Pot

Whilst this one has an included infuser,
it is better still to allow the tea
full movement in the pot …
and use a strainer when pouring.

Pouring water from a high point
– hand and kettle held high,
allows the tea to move rapidly at the onset,
and continue to move freely and infuse properly.

The reliable British Standard (Brown) …

3. Tea Cups

Two examples from my own sets …

Ceramic

and Cast Iron

4. Tea Caddy

For storing quality teas,
reserve one tea caddy for one type of tea.

5. Tea Tools

for dispensing loose leaf tea.

The HEALTH BENEFITS of Tea

Tea is an anti-oxidant whose statins impede cholesterol
from being absorbed by the body.

It stimulates blood flow, which, in turn,
helps to prevent high blood pressure.

Tea helps to speed digestion

and helps raise the metabolism,
which facilitates the burning of fat.

Theanine, the Amino Acid found in Green Tea,
almost certainly produces an alert mind
whilst equally providing the very real sensation
of being relaxed.

( It will not be necessary to mention that Tea
– as with any aspect of daily life – is to be used
in moderation if its beneficial effects
are to promote all-round health.

Those who abuse herbs, food, or drink
will manifest side effects: It will be self evident
that, in such a case, the fault lies with people
– Not tea. )

P Livingstone
philiplivingstone.org

ちゃしつ … The Tea Room (Part 4 … A Brief History of Tea)

“Waste Disposal” or,

The BIN BAGS of Tea Production …

Let commercial, mass-production tea companies
say what they will:
there is — there most definitely is — a marked
and noticeable difference
between loose leaf tea … and tea bags.

Specifically for the purpose of preparing this article,
we purchased our regular breakfast tea,

along with that concession to impatience:
the (supposedly) ‘same’ tea …
in tea bag form.

I wanted to confirm (before composing this article),
what I and other tea aficionados
have long known to be true – loose leaf and tea bags:

they are not ‘the same tea’.

Photo: A quality, specialised tea shop brand of ‘Breakfast Tea” –
loose and tea bag format …

In this sample (as in other comparisons made over the years)
the quality and flavour of the bagged tea
bears no resemblance to the loose tea.

For anyone who may have always wondered,
please allow me to dispel any doubts:
There IS a difference between whole tea
and tea bags.

Yes – fair enough – tea bags may not be, literally,
the ‘sweepings off the floor’ … but the fact of the matter is
– really, little better.

When Black tea is picked, it is dried;
allowed to oxidize; and then inspected
in preparation for sale to tea-buyers.

Now – here is the fact:

In tea production,
the larger, best leaves and buds are selected
for quality tea buyers to purchase;

the ‘bits’,
the leaf particles,
the dust,
any bits of twig, chaff, or other refuse
that are picked or sieved out
and removed from the ‘choice’ tea crop,

are ground together and crated
for use in … tea bags.

Commercial, western tea companies
may (?) be telling the truth when they vehemently insist that
their tea-bags are not made from “floor sweepings” …

… but what they are filled with,
is NOT the same quality as loose leaf tea.

Surely, common sense alone would be sufficient
to realise that tea-bags are cheap … for a reason?

And that reason is … Quality.

If you genuinely want to appreciate tea,
do not imagine that tea bags represent … tea.

There IS, however, a time and a place for tea bags:

of course there is !

Some of my most satisfying ‘meals’ have been
bread and cheese with a mug of tea
made from Yorkshire or Scottish Blend (teabags),
and enjoyed while sitting on a bale of straw,
in the shelter of the barn
during a thunderstorm.

Do you enjoy a good cup of tea
from your favourite tea bags?

So do I.

But to appreciate tea … to share tea
with guests in your home:

The truth of the matter is …

there IS a difference.

Where It All Began …

Tea found its way to Iran and Palestine
via the Silk Road trade route; and from there,
westward across the Mediterranean
as well as south into Arabia, Africa,
and the Southern Ocean, beginning
somewhere around the first decade
of the 1600’s.

The Opium Wars of the 19th century occurred
because Great Britain wanted tea – which the
Chinese would only sell in exchange for silver.

Greed and selfishness being the motivator
of all “successful” … “businessmen”, the British
did not want to deplete their supplies of silver
in order to get Chinese tea.

‘Superpowers’ achieve their ‘power’
by invading, stealing, and subjugating entire populations
to ‘western’ corruption and degradation:
which is precisely how Great Britain became ‘great’.

When it was made clear that the Qing government
was not interested in proffered British goods
(and insisted that tea be paid for in silver),
the British took it upon themselves to began
running drugs – specifically, Opium from India.

By the first decade of the 1800’s, Britain had succeeded
in creating a significant proportion of drug addicts …
and therefore, a “Need’ for their presence.

And when, in the late 1830’s, China banned
and then confiscated shipments of Opium
to be destroyed, the super-power –

(rather than be filled with shame, remorse,
and a desire to respect another country’s rules
and co-operate fairly)

– became enraged, and promptly initiated ‘war’
from which, they obtained not only the ‘right’ to trade
… but Hong Kong as well.

Chinese plants being superior to the wild,
naturally growing Assam of India,
it was at this time – the end of the 1830’s,

that the British began to grow tea in India
by using plants most probably out-rightly
stolen from China,
by a thief named (ironically) ‘Fortune’.

‘British’ … tea was born.

The privately owned (read, “corporation”) East India Company
exported vast quantities of tea to Britain
at the start of the 19th century after which,
the British government imposed a tea tax on the people.

In 1773, the Company commenced
its highly successful endeavours
in the production of Opium via poppy cultivation.
Fifty years later, business was booming.

Ever chasing greed, the British East India Company
began taking Opium to China,
to the outrage of China’s government
who ordered them to stop.

Lord Napier endeavoured to coerce Chinese officials
to not only accept Opium, but also give their Chinese tea
to the British.

China expelled them.

The British refused to leave, and called in
those who find glory in destruction:
the national death cult known as the military.

This is how a ‘great’ nation becomes “great” –
invasion, subjugation, imperial tyranny.
And ‘war’ against any nation who does not want to
‘go along’ with the despotic invaders.

All this while, of course,
continuing to run opium into China.

Chinese government officer Lin Zexu
wrote to Queen Victoria to inform her both
about what British drug runners were doing;
and demand that Britain stop the opium trade
into China.

Her Majesty was not amused.

( With the Chinese demands, that is:
nothing at all wrong with the drug-dealing
of the British East India company. )

China asked Portugal to expel British from Macao.
Which they did,

Whereupon the British fled to Hong Kong …
and called in the military fleet
which promptly bombarded Guangzhou
and continued on in a swath of destruction and carnage
towards Shanghai.

Emperor had no choice but to ‘retract’
his opposition to Opium.

Britain then demanded ‘redress’ …
in which China paid a (somewhere around)
a 10 million pound equivalent in wealth;

as well as being forced to not only
give Hong Kong to the drug-dealing British,
but open an additional five mainland ports
in which they could freely “trade” (drugs
– amongst other items).

A sobering reminder of how “great” men
and “great” nations … become “great”.

P Livingstone
philiplivingstone.org

ちゃしつ … The Tea Room (Part 5 … White, Yellow and Green)

TYPES of Tea … White, Yellow, and Green

For my Black Tea sensibilities, White, Yellow,
and Green Teas (despite diligent care in preparation)
simply have a very neutral, all-too-grassy taste
for which I just cannot seem to develop a taste.

Although failing miserably at appreciating
anything but Black Tea … I HAVE taken great care to try,

and what I AM able to do, is suggest what names of tea
to look for which will allow you a good quality sample
of a White, Yellow, or Green Tea.

What did not work for me, just might work for you.

WHITE TEA is tea that has been least oxidized
of all the types of tea. Best when aged,
White has the ‘weakest’ tea taste and yet,
is usually the most expensive.

For trying WHITE Tea, I suggest Bái mǔ dān
… or the more flavourful, Shòu méi
(which is second only to the more expensive
Bai hao yin zhen, or, Silver Needle).

For me, its “delicate” taste is

YELLOW TEA has a slightly higher level of oxidation.

Brew Yellow (as well as White) Tea in water
that is cooler than that of a rolling boil – about 85 degrees.

I simply could not develop any ‘taste’ from either White
or Yellow Tea – despite my genuine desire to realise one.

Photograph: This Japanese Green Tea
is flavoured with Sakura – cherries,
to give the wonderful taste of fresh cherries
to the tea.

Here, garnished with Rose petals, the Japanese varieties
being cultivated differently than the Chinese,
make for the only type of Green Tea that (for me)
offer some tea flavour.

Added equally (1 tsp and 1 tsp) to a
19th century-style Orange Pekoe (Black) tea
made for a very nice pot of tea indeed.

GREEN TEA comes from leaves that have been
cooked in large woks (or, in Japan, steam)
in order to limit oxidation.

Price – Quality – makes the difference between
a cup of horrible ‘cabbage broth’,
or a tea that is palatable. (And, try as I have,
I cannot escape the ‘grassy’ taste in even more
expensive ‘Greens’. Perhaps you will appreciate
what I cannot … Form your conclusion, though,
on Quality Green Tea.)

Keep in mind that Green Tea should be brewed
at a lower temperature (about 80 degrees).

OOLONG TEA is tea that is allowed to oxidize far more
than any of the previously mentioned varieties.

Brew Oolong tea at the 95 degree mark.

Look for the name “Alishan”.

PU’ERH TEA is a product of Yunnan province in China.
It is a fermented Green Tea … in which the fermentation
process continues as the Pu’Erh ages.

(For me, strictly personally – an all-too “earthy” taste.
As much as I wanted to, I just could not appreciate
this tea at all.)

There are two types of Pu’Erh:

‘Raw’ Pu’Erh ages for a much longer period of time than
‘Ripe’ Pu’Erh, which has had its fermentation process
artificially increased.

By way of general explanation, the Pu’Erh tea-making process
follows (essentially) the following stages in which:

the leaves are Picked … and left to Wither.
They are then heated in a large wok over a wood fire
and sun-dried for several days
before being covered and left to ferment.

Pu’Erh leaves are sorted and separated
from any residual impurities.
Steamed and Pressed into cakes,
the Pu’Erh is then paper-wrapped for distribution.

As noted earlier, Raw Pu’Erh
will continue to age (and improve) after purchase.

Pu’Erh is considered to be
exceedingly beneficial to health.

It is definitely preferable to buy Pu’erh tea
that has been aged.

SERVING PU’ERH Tea [ Gong fu in Gaiwan ]

(Suggestion Only: Number 1 teapot or Gaiwan)

Separate Pu’Erh from the tea cake by breaking from the centre
of the cake, outwards. Maintain the shape of the cake:
do not break from the outer edge.

1. Warm the teapot using boiled water.

2. Pour off the water after 20 seconds:
Wash the Teapot, Wash the cups … leave for 10 seconds.

First Infusion (the rinse)

3. Use the chachi tool to add the Pu’Erh to the teapot or Gaiwan
… use approximately 5 grams for every 100ml.

4. Add just-boiled (not rolling boil) [ 95 degree + ] water
to the teapot: this will ‘rinse’ the tea leaves to ‘open’ them.

5. After 5 seconds – Pour off this first infusion ‘rinse’
into the teacups;
(note the colour of the liquid – light or dark
and mentally adjust second brew time accordingly:
less if darker; more if a lighter colour).

6. Discard this water from the teacups.

Second Infusion (for drinking):

7. Add water (just before rolling boil) to the teapot

8. Brew for 20 seconds – (may wish to increase according to
the colour of liquid previously noted and the taste desired –
Tea is a matter of personal taste: Experiment!).

9. Quickly dry outside of teacups (from previous rinse spills).

10. Pour from teapot, through a strainer, into a Gong dao (Fairness Pitcher) …

11. … and from pitcher into teacups.

12. Serve the tea … smell the aroma; savour the taste.

Benefit from the healthy attributes of Pu’Erh tea.

Third Infusion (second for drinking)

Add water (just before rolling boil) to the teapot
Brew for 15 seconds
Pour through strainer into the Gong dao …
… and from pitcher to teacups.

Whilst neither White, Yellow, or Green teas
suited my taste,
it may be that you will succeed where I did not.

To that end, I sincerely hope that the above
thoughts will be of some help, should you wish
to try these varieties of tea for yourself.

P Livingstone
philiplivingstone.org