Green Tea: Food For Thought

At my Zen temple in Okayama, seveal years ago, I remember the biting cold of mid-January. It was truly terrible. Early mornings as we woke up, as the bell was ringing at 4:40am, were just hell. Then, around 6am or in late January close to 7am, the sun would rise. We had a pretty solid routine each morning, just to get through that. Going along, doing zazen, running, sitting, eating, working in the garden or cleaning the buildings. Suddenly it was noon and time for lunch.

The tea routine was a very important part of each day.

Especially, I remember how things slowed down after lunch. The roshi would meet with guests in the small tea room. He was really such a pro at whipping up the green teas for each guest. That is his way of meeting each person, face-to-face, cup-to-cup.

We didn't always see him like that - so relaxed, happy, just being himself.

But it was really hard. Kitchen duty meant you were serving rice and miso soup to the entire sangha. The person in charge of the kitchen each day would be invited to be present for the tea break. After having worked since early morning (5am) making rice and miso soup for (7am) breakfast, and then preparing (12am) lunch, cleaning the kitchen - that tea meeting was a strange calm moment (around 13:30pm). A very special treat. A rare moment to feel on top of the world. A chance to watch the roshi whip that green powder, mix it with hot water, pouring in the coups. Drinking tea, listening to the profound, sometimes hilariously funny conversation, and relaxing. Just another day's work.

Comments

Tom O said…
This post/'article' really should be earning you some o-kane, ie an in-flight magazine for JAL/ANA etc. Unique and very atmospheric, you really should try and actually sell it. Would take someone on a long-haul to europe or the US to another place...
Martin J Frid said…
Thanks a lot Tom, well, what can I say. You are a special case, someone who instantly understands the deeper meanings of this. And I would have to say, if I had a reader in mind, browsing through the inflight magazine, on that long-haul to Japan, I would hope he or she was attracted to this kind of writing.

With some truly great photos, of course.

I am learning a lot.
Green Tea said…
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