I took the picture, illustrating this post, of the tea gallery at Laojundong Temple in Chongqing years ago. Even if it is a little bit blurry, I like it because it remembers me of a rainy tea session on a cloudy summer afternoon.
“Tea at the temple” is a very pleasant experience. Whether daoist or buddhist, many temples in China have their own tea corner. Sometimes it is situated within the walls of the temple itself, sometimes you will find it just outside. There, visitors can site down and enjoy some cups of crisp green tea. The serene atmosphere provided by the temple makes it all the more satisfying.
Often, you can choose between the everyday-teas, that you will also typically find in teahouses at public gardens or parks. Occasionally, when you are lucky, and visit at the right moment, you will be offered some rare tea picked by the monks themselves. Tea, especially green tea, has always played an important role in the life of temples, helping the monks in their concentration and meditation. Some larger temples even used to have their own little tea garden.
Tea at the temple: every time is unique
Once, we were hiking on a misty and foggy mountain. When we reached one of the mountain’s many tops, we had the pleasure to find a pittoresque little temple on it. After entering the main door, we felt like transported in another realm, and had almost the impression, that this little temple was waiting just for us: All around the inner courtyard, stools and tables were arranged. In front of each stool a little white porcelain gaiwan was waiting to be used. We just had to sit down, relax and wait for someone to bring us some hot water. In my memory, the gaiwans were already containing some fresh leaves of green tea.
I also have nice memories of drinking tea at the more crowded and easy to access Wenshu Monastery or Qingyang Palace, both in the middle of Chengdu. At another occasion, we travelled with some friends to a very tiny temple lost somewhere in a beautiful natural scenery: This time we took with us our own tea and teaware and spent the whole afternoon at the temple making tea and enjoying ourselves. The water was provided by a nearby spring. We also tasted the delicious vegetarian food made by the nun, who was the only person living in the temple.
Every tea drinking experience is unique. The nice thing is, that you can recreate your own little tea drinking temple in your home: Some nice teaware, maybe a flower, etc. and you have your own peaceful setting.
What about your experiences? Have you also experienced tea at the temple? Where and how do you enjoy tea most?
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