Saturday, March 17, 2018

Tea with 2 masters of the positive

Sometimes, tea is just a good excuse to meet very interesting people! Yesterday, I met not 1, but 2 such persons. From what I understood, both are writers and life coaches. They help others improving their happiness level. Whaoh! Are you interested to read how our meeting went and what I learned from them?

Let's start with a quick introduction. Below, on the left, we have Tynan, 'king of tech geeks' and on the right we have Leo who writes 'Zen Habits'. Both write extremely well and have published self improvement books.
Now, before you get your hopes too high, they didn't tell me the one key secret of a happy life, or the 3 steps to success. Our meeting was mostly about enjoying a very good tea in a fabulous location. However, I believe that actions speak louder than words. It's one thing to preach, but the real challenge is practicing what you preach. So, even though I was doing most of the tea teaching, I could learn a few things from Tynan and Leo.
They are travelling the world right now and are enjoying tea in tea houses with a lot of character. They asked me where they could find something similar to their experience at Wisteria, the famous Japanese era (1895-1945) tea house in Taipei city. Well, look around and see where I have taken you, I answered! This is the Lin Family Mansion and Garden. It predates the Japanese era by 50 years! Fittingly, I prepared this Chaxi using Qing dynasty tea ware (the Yixing zisha teapot, the qinghua cup, the celadon plate and the bamboo basket). And in order to feel in harmony with this old place and a cool, cloudy day, I chose to brew my mid 80s raw loose puerh.
The drawback of making tea in this historical place with lots of wooden structures is that you can't use charcoal fire and that you can't boil your own water with an electric kettle outdoors. As I explained this potential problem to my guests, Tynan right away offered to use his thermos to get hot water. He didn't focus on the negative, but offered a solution. (An advice he offers on his blog is to reframe every problem into a challenge and come up with a solution). That was pretty impressive. But I already had my own solution: a couple of days earlier, I had inquired and made sure that the hot water fountain is still in place in this garden. This would mean that I would have to walk 30-50 meters to get my boiling water. So, to avoid constant back and forth with a small teapot (or even running when brewing gongfu, haha!) I decided to bring my rather big Yixing teapot. This would also mean I needed a tea that wouldn't get bitter /bad when overbrewed. Add the idea of time travel in this antique Chinese garden and it made most sense to bring a very good aged raw puerh.
As we finished our first brew, I proposed to move to a second spot. This made me walking to get boiling water less awkward since we were all moving! It would have been a waste to only brew this tea once. At the same time, I didn't want want to bore my guests with just 1 tea. So, a change of scenery and Chabu helped keep this tea interesting.
Our cups almost got mixed up during our change of location, but then Tynan and Leo were able to recognize their cups, because each teacup has a different design. This simple fact made them happy and I could tell that they had been paying attention to their tea and to what I was telling them. For instance, I asked them what my tea jar originally was. The answer is in my blog. I gave them time to think about it and almost forgot about it when they asked me to tell them the answer. (Advice: when you do something, put all your heart in it).
Before meeting them, Leo had sent me 2 messages (by e-mail and by SMS) to warn me that they would be 5 minutes late. This allowed me to walk slowly to our meeting point and arrive slightly before them. Without these messages, I would have run to arrive on time, because I was also a little bit behind schedule. His kind thought and action let me arrive relaxed at our meeting point, still ahead of them.

Leo is the most sunny tea drinker I've ever met. His smile is generous, friendly, warm and caring. They were happy to drink my tea, not just because my tea was good, our surroundings gorgeous and our talk interesting, but because of their attitude. I felt humbled by 2 masters who are incredibly grateful and who are able to focus on the positive while leaving all negativity aside.
Thanks for sharing this special moment with me. Have a great journey around the world! And thanks for your interesting writings in your blogs.

Addendum: Tynan's take on this experience.


admin said...

I like pretty much a question asked by Tynan on his blog as he dicovered the Taipei tea culture :
"I’m not sure if tea brings the best out in people, or if generous people are drawn to tea for some unknown reason, but I’m constantly struck by the kindness of tea people.”

I realize that I've been asking myself the very same question since quite a while. Hard to find a definitive answer.

TeaMasters said...

Thanks for your comment. The act of making tea for others or for oneself is in itself an act of kindness. You could just be drinking water if you were thirsty. Going through the trouble, the additional work of making tea is an act of generosity. So, it's just natural that tea would be associated with kindness, I feel. Of course, there's still some competition, vanity in tea: mine is better, mine is more expensive, comes from a more famous place... but this all serves a worthy goal, making a better cup.