Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Learning to Brew by Mical Lewis

Until recently, I was unfamiliar with kung fu brewing, a Chinese tea brewing method involving a small clay pot or a porcelain guy wan. I recently acquired my first Yi Xing teapot, thus began my journey. I decided to work with green oolongs so I chose a lovely mid-sized red clay teapot, which lends itself best to that type of tea. Nothing fancy, just a teapot. Incidentally, this teapot is the only bit of fancy teaware that I own. I don't have a wet-brew tea tray or a tea pick or fancy cups—at least not yet. Truthfully, the first time I made tea with my teapot I used a metal pie pan to catch the over spill.

Brewing tea kung fu style is very much a mindfulness practice in which you brew the tea in several short increments. I have also heard people in the teahouse say that the tea tastes better when you focus your energy and remain present with it. I knew that this might be difficult for me since my mind tends to run around like an overly-caffeinated hamster in a maze. The first few times I brewed kung fu style, I remained engaged; I didn't want to mess up and I was still actively learning the process. However, I found that once I'd memorized the procedure, my mind started to wander. I haven't ruined the tea yet, but I have definitely over-brewed a few times. Though the tea wasn't bad, it definitely tasted neglected.

Despite the challenge of staying in the present moment, I really love brewing with my Yi Xing teapot. I'm forming quite a bond with that little teapot. We've become partners in the present moment, a monkey-mind quieting duo. I know that when I get it down from the shelf, I'm about to let go of everything extraneous and just be here now. I know that there will be more ups and downs in my kung fu brewing journey. Invariably, my mind will wander. But, in time, I hope to become more grounded and focused, and to deepen my personal relationship with tea.

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