Thursday, October 2, 2008

the green tea ceremony

We live in stressful times. Would any of you people out there deny that? And we need ways to cope with that stress. My usual coping mechanisms - crocheting, writing gangsta rap lyrics, petting the puppy, growing orchids, spelunking, mime - are fine, but lately I've felt like I needed a little something extra. You know, something to put me over the top.

So that got me to thinking about the green tea ceremony. You know, it's fascinating, the myriad ways that people in Japan and China have come up with over the millenia to relax and de-stress. There's tea ceremonies, and tai chi, and origami. Also: Noh theater, haiku, calligraphy, ikebana, Godzilla movies, and selecting prepubescent girls for the national gymnastics team. Maybe that's why people in this region have the highest life expectancy in the world? I don't know.

But anyhow, of all the above, the Japanese green tea ceremony resonates the most with me. If you've never witnessed it, in real life or on TV, it's a highly ritualized and formal event that takes years of practice to master. You'd think making and drinking some tea wouldn't take too long, but these ceremonies can actually go on for hours. Every step, every gesture, is done with precision and grace. If you're good at it ... well, it must be hard to remain humble. And yet I've never seen a cocky tea master! And I know that the tea ceremony is traditionally performed by women. I'm OK with that; I'm secure in my masculinity. I just need something to help get rid of stress. Damn ...

So I've been working on this. I've been doing more leg exercises at the gym, to strengthen my squatting muscles. I've gotten a kimono and all the necessary equipment, including a chashaku (ritual tea scoop), chabako (wooden box for holding utensils), and some tatami mats for the floor. I've located a local tea house with a sympathetic manager, to hold the actual ceremony. There's only one problem: I don't really like green tea! Not the preparation, obviously. Just the taste of it. And to abstain from the whole ceremony just because of that one detail ... well, it'd be like throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

So, I was wondering if anyone out there knows if you can do the tea ceremony with iced tea. I love iced tea.

1 comment:

Brian said...

"Petting the puppy"? Please tell me that's not what I think it is. Anyway, the iced tea ceramony is an great idea. I approve.