The crackling of the flame as it touches the bottom of the pot—fire. The gentle stream flowing into the cup—water. The mist of steam that rises, carrying the scent of tea as you inhale—air. And the raw clay of the cup—earth.
“Tea is the sunlight, moonlight and starlight, the rain, mountains and soil—and we are of the same,” says Resham Daswani, tea curator at Fivelements Habitat wellness centre in Hong Kong. “Instead of trying to get the world to fit our view, [tea ceremonies help us] see that we are part of an infinite expanding whole. This shift from ‘ego’ to ‘eco’ is the antidote to find our way back to our health, harmony and balance with the planet.”
It is in the sanctuary of a dedicated tea room at Fivelements that Daswani introduces cha dao, or the way of tea, so others can explore what she calls “the sacred benefits of the leaf.” The ceremony involves drinking cups of nourishing organic tea—prepared and poured by Daswani in a ceremonial ritual passed down by generations of tea masters—in silence, followed by questions and reflection at the end.
“When we approach tea with quietude and inner stillness, we begin to remember the oneness we all come from. Tea helps connect us to our higher self—the person we know we can be, and bridges the meditative mind to a calm and awakened state with clarity and peace. We learn to shed the dust of the world, remove layers of identities and return to a few leaves in a bowl for guidance.”
They say that when the mind is silent, the soul will speak, and at its essence, a tea ceremony is an exercise in intent where—stripped of distraction and the need to “do”—all one has to do is sit, observe and reflect.