Bowl Tea is about connection to Great Nature. We make tea in the simplest of ways, using just leaves and water. This is the way tea was drunk thousands of years ago—before tea became a beverage, commodity, or object of connoisseurship.
Arriving in this moment with such simplicity and humility, we clear away judgments. Free from pretentiousness, or fixation on technique or performance, we can simply be fully present to this moment; to each other. We remain connected with the spirit of tea, with Great Nature, and with ourselves.
While the essence of bowl tea isn’t about technique, there are still “ways” to do it. There are ways to hold the bowl; there’s an order to the steps, like rinsing the teaware and tea, etc. Each action in any tea-brewing method can have both a practical and symbolic basis. Still, the spirit of bowl tea is one of acceptance and non-judgment, so if you “make a mistake”, accept it and change it the next steeping, or session.
View demonstrations of how to enjoy bowl tea two different ways, performed by my teacher, Wu De in Taiwan.
Bowl Tea: Side-handle Pot Tea Brewing
Bowl Tea: “Leaves In A Bowl” Brewing.
(The simplest of all brewing methods)
Which method to use? “Leaves In A Bowl” is foundational, intimate, and the simplest form of drinking tea. However, certain kinds of teas, including small/broken leaves, or compressed teas, would be too fine; they would leave bits of leaves in our mouths with each sip, so are better brewed in a side-handle teapot. Why not any teapot? (More on this in another post) There are a few reasons, but the primary one is that the other style of teapot is used in Gongfu tea brewing, which has a different approach and technique than bowl tea. Keeping the teaware separate helps keep the different approaches to tea self-contained.