"How did you get into tea ceremonies?"
This is a question I get at pretty much every single tea ceremony I have ever performed. I'm sure it seems like such an obscure modality (probably because it really is although it's becoming less so), and I don't really fit the demographic of someone who you'd think would have the kind of knowledge and exposure to follow a path of a tea practitioner.
I always reached for a warm cup of tea when my nervous system needed something, something simple to focus on, something nourishing for my body, something calming that could help slow me down and be more present.
What I tell people when they ask me this question is that for me, tea has always been a meditation without defining it as such, without knowing that was what I was doing. But I always reached for a warm cup of tea when my nervous system needed something, something simple to focus on, something nourishing for my body, something calming that could help slow me down and be more present. I would do it in a number of situations. When I was sick, when I needed a break, when I needed a reward, when I wanted to be present with a friend, when I just needed to reset, and often times I would do it with a book too because nothing in my opinion is more blissful than a cup of tea and a good book. I was never a coffee drinker and I have trouble drinking water in the quantities one should (a story for another time) so tea has always been my favorite way to hydrate. There even became a point when I could no longer tolerate alcohol and I thought to myself then and every day since, "It's okay, I have tea."
So fast forward to my 30's, a time full of having babies and taking care of those babies. I had many various careers before having these babies but for a good 4 years I was pretty much solely dedicated to taking care of my babies. But finally I reached a point where both of my children would be in school for a certain amount of the week and I felt a pull to dedicate myself to something again, outside of parenting. Something creative, something all my own. I had been teaching textile art workshops here and there before having children and only once or twice a year since having children and wondered if I wanted to make that a bigger thing but I wasn't quite feeling the energy around it that would be required to make it a side hustle, as much as I love teaching textile arts to people. Then I randomly heard about a tea ceremony and I thought "What is that?!?!?!" As someone who is very intrigued with ritual and community building and creating and holding space for people, learning that something existed within that realm but that was focused around tea...that was exciting! That I might have the energy to create a side hustle around. Because not only was that something I wanted for myself, but that was something I'd be super excited to share with others and I'd imagine others would be excited about too.
The rest is kind of history. I basically have just dove head first in the last couple years into this world and have not looked back. I have absorbed and continue to absorb everything I can about tea culture, tea cultivation, tea ceremony, tea life, etc, etc. As I was researching tea ceremony I learned about a Tea Sommelier program through the Tea & Herbal Association of Canada. Pretty early on I realized this would not really be the avenue that would teach me more about ceremonies but knowing I learn very well in structured formats and loving all things related to tea, it did appeal to me to do a program like this so I could get a very holistic education around tea and I have not regretted this decision at all. I am still in the program and am at the time of this writing about to start my second to last course before I can sit for the Tea Sommelier certification exam. To fulfill my desire to learn more about tea ceremonies and ritual I embarked upon my own journey of self study by reading lots of books, visiting and picking the brain of tea practitioners that I had access to, and most importantly going on a life-changing tea retreat with Jade Brunel, an amazing tea practitioner and teacher. I had dabbled in doing some ceremonies for friends before this retreat but this retreat was really the catalyst to give me the confidence and the drive to start offering ceremonies within my community.
I truly believe this leaf holds in it a secret elixir for total connection.
So here I am, thrilled to be offering tea ceremonies to my community, humbled to be in the service of tea, to share the simplicity of connection, reverence, and gratitude that comes from communing around a cup of tea. And I'm super excited to continue this lifelong journey and create more offerings as I learn more. I have so many ideas, from teaching basic tea appreciation classes to offering tea and food pairings and helping people to cultivate their own meditative tea practice. I have to say that after every ceremony and during all my studies either formal through my tea sommelier program or self-guided on my own, I feel an overwhelming sense that I have found what I am meant to be doing. Sometimes I am moved to tears with absolute gratitude for having found this path, a path I feel I was meant to be on, and gratitude that I am finally here now. The passion I have for all things tea, the thrill and humility to know that I will be learning for the rest of my life, and the alignment that has occurred not only in my tea encounters but also in the surprising connections tea has with so much in this world but especially to subjects I have been interested in on and off throughout my life...it's just so exciting! This is definitely another blog post in the making. But all that is to say that in such a short time tea has brought me to so many places and given me the opportunity to meet so many amazing people, and really it shouldn't be such a surprise that it has done so as I truly believe this leaf holds in it a secret elixir for total connection...but sometimes I still am surprised. Surprised and just so so grateful. Sending gratitude to you, my reader, for reading this. Raising a cup to you!
Resources I Recommend
Tea & Herbal Association of Canada
Yusuian for Japanese Tea Ceremonies in Malibu
Urasenke Tankokai Los Angeles Association
Tea, Remembering the Essence of Life - Book by Jade Brunel