Tea ceremony is like a relationship,” she said. “At first, the tea may not produce much flavor, but as time goes on the flavors and feelings become much stronger.
Yesterday, I had the good fortune to stop into Silk Road Art Gallery on Audubon Street. Silk Roads is a member and neighbor of the Arts Council, and I’ve kept up with their events, but had not yet visited.
As soon as the door shut and the street noise receded, I entered a subtle but powerful environment where the art on walls and pedestals, recorded music of the Guqin, a traditional Chinese seven-stringed instrument, and soft upholstery in precise arrangements combined to exert a palpable calm.
I was greeted by Dan. She told me about something else they offer at Silk Roads besides art–the experience of the traditional tea ceremony. I accepted her offer, and chose my seat as she made the preparations.
The tea ceremony is experienced through a series of rounds. In the first pass, hot water is added to the tea pot, but shortly after is poured into another serving pot and emptied into the special wooden board. Starting with the second round, the tea is ready for drinking.
I am encouraged to smell the tea deeply and sip slowly. Dan says, “When we say nothing but sit silently with each other, the music becomes part of the conversation.”
Dan told me to think of a place in the mountains, where this ceremony would happen along with the live playing of the Guqin and the sounds of running water in nature.
We sat in mostly silence, enjoying our tea, and the absorbing moment. Much of the art in the gallery shows aspects of nature, and this contributed to my enjoyment of the ceremony. After many passes of tea I rose, contented, and thanked Dan. Nodding to Buddha, I made my way into the street, and felt the taste of tea in my mouth like the remembrance of a dream.