Tea Enlightenment

TEA is an ancient beverage, believed to have been discovered in China well over 4,000 years ago.
The legend goes that while the Emperor Shen Nung was boiling water outside on an open fire, some leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant blew into his pot. As he sipped the uplifting brew, he just knew there was something special about this evergreen bush. Cultivation of the tea plant and use of its leaves spread throughout China and Japan mostly by Buddhist monks who used the leaves as a medicine. They also used this cha, as it is called in several languages, as a means for staying awake during long hours of meditation. In an effort to combat intemperance, the monks also offered tea as an alternative to alcoholic beverages.

It wasn’t until early in the 17th century that the Dutch began importing tea from China. Thereafter, tea made its way from Holland to England and then to North America. Today, it is found all over the globe, where it is used in spiritual celebrations, meditations, cultural rituals and social functions. Tea has been used to enhance traditions, reflect customs, and bridge cultures. For some time now, tea has been the number two beverage in the world, second only to water. All true TEA comes from the same plant.

The term “herbal tea” is misleading, because it is not technically tea but rather an infusion of the seeds, flowers, roots, bark, leaves and/or berries of various edible plants.
 White tea, green tea, oolong and black tea all come from the Camellia sinensis, a subtropical evergreen tree. Skillful manipulation of the leaves determines the tea type. When the natural enzymes of the leaf are exposed to the air through a rolling process, the cell structure begins to break down. This is known as oxidation.

The classification of the tea – whether white, green, oolong or black – is determined by the oxidation levels. Tea is grown around most of the world in what are called estates, gardens or plantations. Most teas are grown at high altitudes well above pollution levels. Like wines, teas are named for the district in which they are grown. Each district produces teas with distinct qualities and tastes, depending on many factors: including climate, soil, weather conditions, cultivation and processing methods, etc.  Any variety of tea is perfect to incorporate into an individual spiritual practice; as the practice deepens so will the appreciation of this remarkable botanic.

Moments spent in quiet reflection, sipping slowly, savoring life, being present in the now – are indeed spiritual. These are ways of creating balance in our lives and this harmony is necessary for peace of mind and BLISS. The wisdom’s of the East can easily find a place with the ways of the West.

Just as tea spawned a revolution in 1773 in several harbors along the Atlantic Coast, not just the infamous Boston harbor, it can once again launch a revolution – this time a spiritual revolution.  This is a new kind of uprising, a true form of rising up, a “wising up,” if you will, to what really matters in life and where our true BLISS can be found. We’re learning that the spiritual accumulation of good in our lives is more important than material acquisitions. The mere recognition of this change in consciousness (awareness) catapults us in a new direction and will lead us straight to the inner arena of BLISS & SELF SUCCESS.

In the East, tea ceremonies represent a balancing of the yin and yang forces.

In North America, there is a growing understanding that having the feminine and masculine energies in equality will bring us inner peace. Only when individual inner peace is achieved will world peace ever be possible. Tea has a gentle energy about it, definitely feminine. Coffee, on the other hand, has a more forceful energy, quite masculine. Coffee has its place, as does the male energy. It has never been about which one is better; it is about bringing the two energies (which were once one) back into balance. An imbalance has been felt for a very long time now in many ways. Our politics, our religions, our businesses, and life in general, have had a dominant masculine energy – almost excluding the feminine entirely. To create balance, we bring in elements of the energy force that are missing. Tea fits that bill perfectly. No, it doesn’t solve all our issues, but it is a step in a positive direction.

As much as we pump ourselves up with caffeine and other substances, we must also become creative in the art of slowing ourselves down. In taking the time for reflection and contemplation, we are not as likely to react with judgement or resentment as perhaps we could with an over-stimulated system. It is all about congruity, the yin and the yang, the masculine and the feminine, in harmony. A spiritual revolution is felt with the heart and is led by Spirit, and no one gets hurt. It is a re-formation, a re-shaping and a re-directing of our lives; and this is all done by choice. It is a conscious choosing that allows the wisdom of the universe to intercede in our lives; love is the presence that always allows, all ways. The Source of this wisdom dwells within each and every one of us. Tapping into this Source is how we begin loving ourselves and we can do this as easily as steeping ourselves a cup of tea and sipping it in complete surrender and serenity. Ah, the taste of BLISS is indeed sweet and accessible to everyone.

Check out this wonderful documentary about TEA. Enjoy!

We apologize for the missing video – it seems to have disappeared from the internet, even Hulu.