Master Shen smells your cup after you drink from it, and from that, he can sense your tea level, and possibly your level of personal cultivation, too. A tea friend was so shocked by Master Shen's divinations regarding her life that she jokingly asked Master Shen if he is a shaman. “Yes, Yes I am a shaman.” Wow! He claims to be able to sense your intentions, mood, maybe even some base-level thoughts from the energy you and your cup give off, as well as the scent from your cup. He’ll ask people present to pass around their cups so that they can all compare the difference scents. There are noticeable differences in the traces of tea aroma in each cup. Some are weaker, some are more floral, some smell like a different tea altogether.
I can’t explain it and frankly the “why” is less vital to me than the how. “Master, please teach us how to brew tea like this! ”
There’s been a big, contemporary shift towards mindfulness in recent years. Brewing great tea starts with mindfulness. In the moment, there is no anxiety, fear, expectation or ego. One loses the neurotic sense of time; the continuous notice of time’s progress, of the death of each second and the apprehension of tracking, archiving and judging the events that pass during that time. Each moment contains just “thusness.”
When I practiced Qigong, the first two things we did at the start of each class were called Jing and Ding. Jing can be translated as quiet or tranquility, and we would begin the class with silent meditation. Then we would naturally progress to the next step, Ding, which can be translated as stillness. With our bodies and minds quieted, we can achieve mental and bodily calm. According to Master Shen’s teaching, brewing great tea also starts with tranquility and stillness.
From the stillness, we bring forth our best intentions and happy thoughts, and spread the positive intention to the tools we use. To the cups and pot, to the water and to the tea leaves. Many things begin in our minds.
Master Shen has many students around the world who have enjoyed his tea brewing and lessons for decades. He said he has already transmitted to me the essence of his teachings, techniques and understanding, and those teachings have now been shared with you. The rest of the details will reveal themselves with practice and reflection. Use the best water, pot and tea that you have, be mindful before and during your tea sessions, and channel your good intentions into the pot and cup. Try it for a few months and see how your tea turns out. More importantly, try this for a few months and see if YOU change. The real magic may turn out to be that you refine yourself, not just the tea.
Written by guest blogger Rich
Read more of his tea stories at his personal blog, link below
Photography copyright Jake Knapp