I made matcha tea today, measured with a bamboo tea scoop (chashaku) and frothed with a bamboo whisk (chasen). I drank the tea slowly while silently but attentively observing our rainy garden (see photos above).
I was reminded of a bowl of matcha in Kyoto, prepared for us at the Tenjin-in Temple (see photos below), where we quietly stared out on its beautiful, wet, and complicated garden.
At dinner tonight some friends shared the story about Thich Naht Hanh whose family, when he was a small child, would row out into the water in the early evening bringing some tea leaves wrapped in rice paper which were placed in a lotus flower blossom before the blossom closed. In the morning the family would go out in the row boat and find the lotus flower, which had by then reopened, remove the tea which had been gently scented by the lotus in its nocturnal shelter, and brew the tea in a small samovar on the boat. While gently floating in the boat, the family would quietly drink the freshly brewed tea watching the morning sun.
I am beginning to understand why drinking tea needs to be surrounded by serious ceremony. It is sincere ritual which slows us down and helps us pay attention. It is this kind of aesthetic discipline which reminds us to carefully observe and not take anyone or anything for granted.