Long before Starbucks sold “Zen” tea, green teas were used for healing and meditative purposes, to restore balance and stillness in life. Today, each cup we drink unites us with greater Zen traditions that go far beyond modern conventions.
This short poem is an ancient meditation on tea’s ability to transcend its cup and stimulate mindfulness and tranquility in our day.
7 Cups of Tea
The first cup moistens the throat;
The second shatters all feelings of solitude;
The third cleans the digestion, and brings to mind the wisdom of 5,000 volumes;
The fourth induces perspiration, evaporating all of life’s trials and tribulations;
With the fifth cup, body sharpens, crisp;
And the sixth cup is the first on the road to enlightenment;
The seventh cup sits steaming – it needn’t be drunk, as from head to feet one rises to the abode of the immortals.
(Lu Tong, 9th century)
Tea is a delicate balancing act involving water, fire and leaves. When the balance is perfect, as in a freshly poured tea cup, the resulting harmony can travel with you long after you’ve finished the last sip.