Tea (rec.drink.tea) Discussion relating to tea, the world's second most consumed beverage (after water), made by infusing or boiling the leaves of the tea plant (C. sinensis or close relatives) in water.

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Default Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony ,(無我茶會)

Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony ,(無我茶會)
An American Perspective of
Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony
題目﹕( 一個西方人對無我茶會的觀點 )
Tea is a bridge for people to communicate
Steven R. Jones,
( 瓊斯史迪芬 )
Taipei, Jan. 20, 2006

1.My first time at a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony.
綱要 ( 我與無我茶會的接觸之始 )
I remember the first time I was invited to a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony.
I did not know what to expect; the only thing I was sure of was they
would have tea. I thought to myself what an inconvenience it must be to

go out, brew tea, and do it without breaking and spilling everything.
And what about getting dirty or should I say how "not to get
dirty? Well the time came and I went to the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony. I
arrived early so I did not see what was going to happen yet; and I did
not have a visual concept of the tea brewers seating arrangement.
Then I began to see people coming, saying hello, and discussing things.

I noticed that the people were carrying a bag or a backpack. They would

go to the information booth to sign in, take a seat number card from
the drawing bag, and then they would look for their seat spaces. Some
would have a little trouble finding their spaces; but someone was
always there to help. As things started to unfold, and I mean
literally; because each tea brewer would unpack and setup their tea
ware on a mat on the ground. All the different tea sets looked
beautiful, spread out on the green field. I told some people I wished I

had brought my camera. I was with a young woman and she said something
in Chinese to a man and then told me she would get some pictures for me

later; I was very happy with all the teamwork and friendliness. This
kind of event with all the tea brewers on the ground sitting next to
each other seemed to me like having a picnic; but in this gathering, it

was very orderly and rehearsed. I was told this was the first time they

had been to this particular park. I asked how do they know what to do
and what to bring and when to begin, the man I was talking to told me
to slow down and just enjoy myself and maybe next time I could also
participate in a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony. Then I would understand the
answers to my own questions. I told him it looks hard. He stared at me
for a moment as if he had remembered that it was difficult for him the
first time too. Then he laughed and said, You will learn, just keep
coming to the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremonies., and he laughed warmly again.
This made me feel very comfortable. He walked with me and explained
about the different tea sets and brewing styles. I was amazed; I had
never seen so many beautiful teapots in my life. Later he said we had
better go and sit down now the brewing is about to begin. We went
outside the brewing area, and sat down with our other friends. Everyone

stopped talking and it was very quiet.
Then the brewing began, I could hear water being poured, see steam, and

smell tea. After some brewing and serving, a tea brewer came up to me
with a small tray and some cups of tea and I took one, we bowed, and I
said thanks and the tea brewer just smiled. I remember it was a little
cold that day so the teacup felt nice and warm in my hands. Then came
the taste, I drank a few sips and fell in love with tea.

2. The Tea and my five senses:
( 感官的*域 )
The Tea completely activated all of my five senses:
1. The sound of the tea, being poured, like a bubbling mountain spring.

2. The aroma of the tea, changes when hot, cold, or if the cup is empty

with only traces of tea, all have different fragrances. A small cup
with an irresistible aroma , like a high quality aloes-wood heating
in an incense burner giving off its different scents as it changes
temperature and heats.
3. The sight of the tea, teas have different colors, like a rainbow
after a summer rain.
4. The touch of the tea, the cup so warm in my hands and warm feeling
of the tea in my throat and body just made me glow with content.
5. The taste of the tea, I remember that the most, just wonderful!
Usually when I drink something, it is because I am thirsty. However,
this time was very different; this was not to quench my thirst, but to
Experience the Tea and all its nuances with all my five senses
and my mind. I do not know why I became so attract to this tea event.
Maybe it was the people, the tea, the ceremony, or all of these things.

I thought it would be such a great thing to do, if I could learn and
participate in a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony. This would really make me feel
proud to understand a part of Tea Culture and Taiwanese Culture. I was
new in Taiwan and did not know much of the Chinese language. However,
during a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony, I would not have to say much anyway.
Therefore, if I learned about the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony, I could
participate, brew, serve tea, and just smile and bow. Tea and Taiwanese

Culture is one reason why I have stayed in Taiwan so long. Tea is a
fascinating and satisfying subject; and tea is a great conversational
topic. I often refer to tea as a bridge between people that they use to

socialize. I used to be very fat, I changed my lifestyle; and studied
and practiced tea, and at the same time, I lost weight too. Tea keeps
me busy and it is not fattening either.

3. The procedures of Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony
( 無我茶會的論述 )
The Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony event is not rushed and there is time left for
retrospective thinking about how we brewed and how we can possibly
improve next time. There is also time for enjoying the moment, mental
drifting, pondering, and meditating. A drawing is held at the beginning

of the ceremony and the participants seat or space numbers are
randomly chosen. The seating arrangement is in a prearranged circle or
closed formation shape. This gives the arrangement a continuity and
equality without a leader or any ranking status to the seating. Having
this kind of seating arrangement is like a closed chain where each
participant is a vital link in this circuit that is connected and
energized by the tea brewing. By sitting next to one another and being
in a closed formation facing towards the center, one can gaze across
the field or area and see the fellow brewers with all the same purpose:

brew, serve, drink, and enjoy tea.
Each Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony event will serve tea in one direction and by
doing this; the serving is cyclic without any resistance to the flow of

the ceremony. In this way, the motion will be in the same direction.
For example, let us say the tea serving will be to the left. Each
participant will make tea and serve it to the fellow brewers on the
left. In addition, each participant will receive from the right, and
will keep a cup of his or her own tea. The process of giving or
receiving in one direction, bonds the tea brewers and ceremony
together. Brewing and reserving a cup for yourself is a way of knowing
how well you have brewed for the people you are serving. And being
served is a way of enjoying the tea from the group. A personal
satisfaction comes with brewing and drinking your own tea. And by
having, other teas brewed and served to you only add variety to the
enjoyment of the moment and the refreshing taste of the tea.
There are many ways to brew tea and during a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony, each
tea brewer decides how he or she will make the tea. One example is the
traditional Chinese way called, Gong Fu or Skilled Method; a small
ceramic teapot and tea pitcher are used. Another way is the Japanese
style of using a small bowl with a bamboo whisk to froth up some
powdered green tea. Or the covered bowl brewing method, which is simply

tea in a bowl topped with a lid. It is all up to the individual brewers

on what they want to bring.
There is an awe of silence that covers the area when the tea brewers
sit down and the ceremony begins. The tea for the ceremony is brewed
for about the same time, one or two minutes; this is because the tea
brewing vessels are of similar size, therefore the tea brewers are in a

sort of rhythm. To see the tea brewers pouring the tea at about the
same time, from the teapots into the tea pitchers is like watching a
river flow down stream but in this case there is no downstream and no
upstream, just a continuous circle of flow. The tea is the blood and
the physical element constant of the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony.

4. The Spirit of Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony and the meaning of Wu-Wo.
( 無我茶會的精神?與無我的意義 )
This time let us reach for the spirit of the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony and
look at the meaning of the words again. Let us first break down the two

words Wu-Wo, and taking the English interpretation
unselfish. In this definition, we are giving and humble not bound

to physical attachments. In addition, we become a linked part of the
ceremony. Now let us just look at the first word Wu, for the Wu-Wo Tea
Ceremony we take this word to mean none or empty. The limits for
where this concept reside are larger and farther as than the mind can
determine, therefore it is without boundaries. Emptiness and boundless
to include all of the none, this is so vast that it encompasses
an infinite space, which can be called all or everything. Now for

the easier word Wo, in our case this represents the individual and is
just one of many. When "one learns and follows the principles and
participates, one becomes part of the Wu-Wo tea Ceremony,
"one empties and becomes none and part of the whole. This is the
true Spirit of the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony.
After the last brew, the participants sit and drink tea while
contemplating and enjoying the full experience of the Tea. They will
sit silently and humbly; and become one with the Tea Ceremony.
When observing a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony it is easy to see a harmony that
almost seems structured but actually, it is the united freedom of the
group as being Whole. Think of a flock of birds flying across the

sky appearing as identical birds in synchronous wing beating flight.
However, the birds are of different size, gender, age, and their wings
are beating at different rates. However, their direction, speed, and
purpose are the same and they cross the sky so elegantly that they are
ONE. These elements create the Spirit of the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony, and it

is in the social, individual, and ideal differences, that are bound in
unity by the Spirit Tea.

5. Cooperation ,like a flock of birds.
( 團體是整體之美、類似成群的鳥兒 )、
As a river constantly flows right and left and spirals in circles, but
its resulting force is in one direction. The river might slow down,
speed up, or even stop; but only for a fixed amount of time before it
will be flowing again in the same direction. And like a flock of birds,

each being individual but crossing the sky in tempo with the same
migration purpose out of instinct. Disappearing in the sky, but not
forever, for the flock will return only to leave once again. And as the

sun and moon rise and set at opposite times and one being cold and at
night and the other being hot and in the day; but both in perpetual
orbit forever, never too close and never too far. This is the Wu-Wo Tea

Ceremony from beginning to end and as all the participants say good-bye

and talk about whens the last time they have seen each other or ask
what kind of tea others brewed. This ending is part of a cycle and not
the end of the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony; because as the participants leave
the area, plans are already being made for the next time to have
another Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony for some occasion or just for the
celebration of tea itself.

6. Wu-Wo Tea Ceremonies can be friendship events.
( 友誼的交流 )
I have now been to many Wu-Wo Tea Ceremonies; usually we are in public
places and share tea with the spectators that come to see the ceremony.

We also serve tea to people that just happen to be there, like
passersby that are just walking around or maybe someone that has
noticed us. So they come over to see what is going on. I have met many
friends this way. It is very fun because the rules are simple, just
make tea, and enjoy! We went to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in
Taipei, for Mothers Day and had a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony. For the Moon
Festival we went to Chinpaosan Cemetery in Taipei County where
the legendary pop singer who hypnotized China and Asia during the 1980s

Theresa Teng is buried. At this place we honored a fellow classmate,
who past away, Lin Jong Feng and had a Memorial Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony.
Recently, we had a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony in Mucha just outside of Taipei
city. That night we attended a lecture and presentation on Modern Art,
later we all sat in a circle and had an open discussion group about the

art presentation and the meaning of Wu-Wo. We spent the night
there and the next day we had a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony on the roof of the
building were we stayed in, I sang a short song right before the end of

the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony. This was a two-day event. We often have Wu-Wo
Tea Ceremonies in Taiwan and I have met many new friends, local and
foreign. Once we got together with two other Tea Associations and had a

tea ceremony at Elephant Mountain in Taipei, this was very good because

we interacted with members from other the tea groups and served tea to
the regular mountain hikers as they reached the mountain summit. I
would say the hikers were quite glad to see us as we offered cups of
refreshing tea to quench their thirst. The tea groups worked together,
some people retrieving fresh water, others boiling water, others
brewing tea, and still others serving tea. I myself went around the
mountain summit to the different brewing locations and introduced the
tea being brewed and offered the passersby to have a cup of tea. I got
lots of questions about how did I, as a foreigner get involved with the

tea groups. People asked how they could get involved; I gave my email
and telephone number out to many people that day. In this Wu-Wo Tea
Ceremony there were three tea groups all brewing and participating
together. This Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony turned out to be a real social event
for exposing many new people to the joys of Tea.
One also can organize a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony in any Country; for example,

we are now organizing a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony for America, in Los Angeles
next year, (scheduled summer 2006). And this year we had an
International Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony at Wuyi Mountain in China, and in 2007

another in Korea, and in 2009 maybe in America or Beijing.

7. History of International Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony
(國際無我茶會的史跡 )
Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony is a style of tea ceremony developed and perfected
in Taiwan in the 1980s by Founder Tsai, Rong Tsang. Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony
originally came from a celebration on Mothers Day called Family
Tea Ceremony (officially, on May 12, 1991 at The Taipei Music Hall
Square, it held around 500 people and their Families). Wu-Wo Tea
Ceremony has had over fourteen years of history, and now has expanded
for all people in all Countries.
As of 2005, the International event, Tea Appreciation Day was
established as a day for celebrating tea all over the world, which
originates from the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony. Tea Appreciation Day is held on

one day during the first weekend of May or close to it. People and
organizations can gather together for an International Wu-Wo Tea
Ceremony to make and serve tea with the attending individuals and
passing strangers alike. Activity leaders must follow local laws and
regulations. There is no need to register with any organization,
(including The International Wu-Wo Tea Association).

8. Conclusion
( 結論 )
Tea comes in many forms and tastes and is the second most popular
beverage in the world after water. Tea drinking is often a social
affair. When people of different cultures, social ranks, races, and
nationalities gather together for tea, we can say that such social tea
drinking helps to cultivate human relationships and promote harmony and

understanding among the community. Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony is one where
everyone, regardless of language, Country, or background, comes
together to make, serve, and drink tea. The term, Wu-Wo, means
selflessness by being part of the whole, and to promote cooperation and

appreciation of others cultural and social differences. You can
achieve a state of selflessness, harmony, and wholeness, with your
fellow tea friends as you become immersed in the Spirit and Basic
Principles of the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony.
I used to think the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony was just a tea party, but it has

become much more to me as the years pass. I have come to understand
that tea is much more than a drink. I have a saying Tea is a bridge
for people to communicate. So many people have helped me to
understand the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony and Tea itself. Therefore, I would
like to thank: my wife Chang, Li-hsiang, the teachers, my co-workers,
my classmates, and the countless new friends I have made. So I will
just say, I thank the old and new people of the International and

Taiwan Wu-Wo Tea Association, for helping me with my tea adventure and
learning of tea.


* * *
Steven R. Jones
* Tea Cultu writer, translator, lecturer, and tea arts performer.
* Tea Arts, Blogger, (http://teaarts.blogspot.com/)
* Translating into English (無我茶會) "Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony" and
about the many facets of Tea Culture.
* A writer for "Tea Culture Monthly"
Lu-Yu Tea Culture Institute, Progress Report
* International Wu-Wo Tea Association, Member, Photographer
* Tea Arts and Culture and Incense Lore Scholar
* American English Instructor

Steven R. Jones
* 翻*
* 茶藝網站主人
* 茶道追求者
* *華國際無我茶會會員
* 美國語言老師
E-mail: 網址: http://teaarts.blogspot.com/

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