Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review: "Cha Dao" - The Way of Tea

I love Tea.
I quit coffee over fifteen years ago, and have experimented with various teas ever since. Many have technically been "tisanes", or herbal blends for health and detoxification, but lately I have been just using true teas from Camellia Sinensis.
Naturally, my love for tea and the martial arts has awakened thoughts about Daoism, the ancient philosophy native to China.
All these interests have come together in the book "Cha Dao - The way of Tea, Tea as a Way of Life", by Solala Towler. Towler begins by explaining the need to slow down, to buffer the frantic race of society by appreciating the simplicity of relaxing with tea. He continues with the history of tea as it emerged from medicinal experiments to a social foundation.

Interspersed with the history are cupfuls of classic Daoist and Zen poetry which illustrate the linking of tea with philosophy.
Colorful descriptions of Daoist (Taoist) sages abound, as this one by N.J. Girardot:

"Taoist images of madness are related to the mystical experience of the chaos condition and to the unique effortless freedom of Wu wei, the sage's playful freedom beyond human, or even humane, bounds. The Taoist as a "demented drifter" is aloof and indifferent to the normal order of the world. From the perspective of his belly knowledge, the Taoist is a wayfarer who knows that "the way things appear to be- permanent, predictable, manageable- is not the way things really are in an ultimate vision of the real."

I can relate to that.
Solala Towler describes the various tea ceremonies, types of tea and medicinal benefits of tea. It's a fun romp of a read, not too heavy, saturated with history and philosophy, and of course, Tea.

Cha Dao, by Solala Towler can be found at the website www.singing-dragon.com

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