I have a problem with the way people use the word ceremony. A better word is practice. One never master's something unpracticed. Practice is nothing more than the act of doing something each day for a certain amount of time. We know that saying, “practice makes perfect” and this is also a saying I dislike. But practice does teach us something. As I was taught, the practice of making gong fu cha was one of internal reflection. I was told that the way that tea tastes is saying something. The tea taste can inform us of our inner landscape. And I don’t think that this makes sense.
I spend a lot of time trying to tell people how to brew in the gong fu cha style, but not why to brew in the gong fu style. It is fun. But if it is not fun, it is a practice. If you do it on a regular basis, you will learn a great deal about tea and about yourself. There is no way around it. Tea has the power to unlock vision. We have the power to unlock tea. Gong fu cha is like an unlocking of the tea. But we don’t want to use the gong fu cha for lower quality tea. Another teacher in Taiwan was busy working, so he said to me, “We don’t have time to make pour quality tea. If I’m going to take the time to make tea, it has to be high quality tea.”
Practicing gong fu cha is that whole “mindfulness doing the dishes” concept. You do it everyday, and it is a special time for connection. There is a connection between you and the teapot, between you and the tea, you and the water. It doesn’t stop there, but I want you to go find it yourself.