On August 25, I attended Monk Nature’s tea party. Monk Nature’s real name is Suk Ja Yeon (释自然). Suk means Shakyamuni, as in Shakyamuni Buddha, and Ja Yeon means nature. Most of my Chinese friends call him Mr. Suk, and one even had asked me: “Are there many families named Suk in Korea?” Actually, Suk is Buddha’s name, and my guess is that all the monks in the world follow his name. The reason why my Chinese friends made that mistake is that another image of Monk Nature is that of a musician and a tea person, especially in front of his Chinese friends.

Before I introduce Monk Nature’s tea party, I would like to introduce Suk Ja Yeon briefly. He is a famous Korean musician, tea person, and monk as well. The first time he visited China was in the early 1990s. In 2000, he settled in Shanghai to establish a Korean temple. Then, in 2005, Suk began three and half years of traveling the world by bicycle. Later, he established a Korean temple in Canada. Just last year, he resettled in Shanghai.  

Monk Nature organizes tea parties twice a year – in February and August. The main purpose of his tea parties is to help the students of his Hope primary school. His tea parties also provide the opportunity for friends to meet and communicate.

Monk Nature owns two Hope primary schools in Yunnan, China, where the tastiest teas are produced, but people are very poor. Monk Nature is a tea person. Ten years ago, he began to make his own tea in the local area (Yunnan and Fujian). When he saw the living and educational environment of the local people, he made a commitment to help them – that’s the origin of his Hope primary schools.

To help the students of Hope primary school, Suk uses his tea parties as venues at which to accept donations, such as used books, clothes, and computers. Of course, he also accepts money. At this August tea party, every guest who donated 100 RMB received a packet of WuYi Rock tea (100 g), which Suk produced this year, a stick of incense, and a small porcelain tea cup with his handwriting. In addition, Suk sold his tea. All donations go to his Hope primary school.

When it comes to Suk’s tea party, the tea ceremony is always the most appealing factor for the guests. Suk is a master of Chinese and Korean tea ceremonies as well as a musician. The musicial performance combined with the tea art performance is unique to Suk Ja Yeon’s tea ceremony. Master Suk always says that music and tea are both world languages. Although we may come from different areas, speak different languages, and have different cultures, we have no problem communicating with a cup of tea and music.

 So, let’s just have a cup of tea and listen to the music! That’s what Monk Nature always says.