The Way of Tea & Tea Ceremony
The Cha Dao Tea Ceremony is a highly versatile means of holding space, facilitating anything from a social environment to a meditative sanctuary. Whatever the aim, the skill and hospitality of the server combined with the nourishing power of “living tea”, ensures a heightened version of that experience. Silent ceremonies, even when met with initial resistance, virtually always end with an unexpected sense of deep satisfaction. And the conversation emerging after the conclusion of the silent period tends to be elevated in quality, enriched by everyone’s journey into the tea and, consequently, into themselves.
To understand the tea ceremony experience, we must first understand the tea plant itself and its tradition in China as more than just a beverage. When grown consciously, tea is not just a caffeinated pleasant-tasting beverage, but a plant medicine that calms the mind, opens the heart, and lifts the spirit and connecting everyone to each other and earthly wisdom that breathes through the leaf. For thousands of years, Chinese tea farmers were stewards of the land, honoring their plants and ensuring they were grown in rich, biodiverse environments (known today as “living tea”). This devotion yielded teas so nutrient-rich they were more of a food than a drink. It’s effects were not agitating, but centering, favored by the country’s meditative traditions as an aid in cultivating mindfulness since it could simultaneously brighten and calm their students. Teas like this are still available to those willing to find them, and such production standards have been increasing as the community of “living tea” enthusiasts has been accelerating in growth and demanding them.
In the Cha Dao (“way of tea”) tradition, tea of this quality is served skillfully, consciously and with total devotion, allowing it’s innate medicinal nature to fully blossom. Any environment it is served in must be aesthetically purposeful, with careful attention to choice of music, incense, floral arrangements, and other decorations. It is important that the tea table is arranged in an especially mindful fashion, curating a space that is naturalistic, but also serene, with no superfluous elements. The server must be attentive to the emotional climate of the participants as well as their own state of inner calm. There are many other nuances to serving that a Cha Jin (“tea person”) is constantly mastering, but ultimately, the experience for the participants is simple, sweet and casual (not in the slightest bit severe and formal). Many report experiences of profound insight, creativity, joy, or inner peace, while others just find themselves enchanted by the sensory beauty of the production. Ultimately, people will have their own unique experience. One of the ancient translations of tea’s Chinese name “Cha” is “the great connector” and the role of the server and ceremony is to provide a humble stage for it to carry out its amazing potential to connect us - to ourselves and each other.
My wife Sabina and I facilitate tea ceremonies to all kinds of groups all over North America. If you are interested in arranging one for your event space, gathering, or event of any kind, please contact either of us. We would love to serve you tea and teach you about this amazing ancient practice and philosophy.
Stefan Ravalli: firstname.lastname@example.org // 503.709.6082
Sabina Padilla: email@example.com // 305.915.7708