Thursday, 19 August 2010

What is the taste of tea prepared with words?

This is part of my series on tea ceremony, a traditional Japanese art that I’ve always thought to be significant to design.

Oh, how I love going to the tea classes. I immerse myself into the experience and can be in the present moment. But thought provoking statements of the teachers, like "Don't reveal all at once" or "We don’t bow to objects", top it all.

One day, however, I wasn’t able to pick up any new statement. So, as a substitution, I grabbed our text book. And yet in the preface it said: "Since the procedure of making tea is more a visual process than a verbal one..."
This hit home, before I even finished reading the sentence (which explains why the book uses plenty of photographs, but omitted captions as much as possible).

Admittedly, I seemed to be on a hunt for insightful statements, almost forgetting the actual purpose of my study: To prepare a delicious bowl of tea for my fellow humans.

And this isn’t accomplished by words.

A personally important lesson, since I tend to approach things more the “theoretical way”. While background information is important as well, in the end it is action that turns water and that particular green powder into tea. And so, like every skill, you need to observe and practice, observe and practice, practice, practice…

No worries. This is not the end of this series. But until the next post, let's practice something we want to get good at.

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