“Through Tea Make Friends”

Tea has always been the emblem of civilization and peace. “Through tea make friends” is an old proverb expressing the sentiments we share with tea. Tea isn’t always deep and transcendent; it is sometimes a time/space of calm joy, where we can celebrate old friends and make new ones.

Tea relaxes us and frees us of the egoic discourse we usually have. Calm and joyful, we can leave our egos at the door with our shoes. In the first ever book on tea, the tea sage Lu Yu wrote that having tea each morning was the only time of day that he could be certain the emperor himself was doing the same thing. In Japan, the tea room was the only place people of different classes and stations could meet and interact free from all social constrictions. And having set down all our masks, through tea, people reveal themselves—open up and make lifelong connections.

In The Tea Space

In the tea space, we are all ordained. There is no class, title or rank. We are all pure and free, which allows us to talk amicably. Tea has connected people, cultures and countries for centuries. Lu Yu also said that the true man of tea never turns down an invitation to tea. Even if our enemy invites us to tea, we go knowing that this might just be the perfect opportunity to make peace.

In this day and age, we often forget the importance of the simpler gifts: a bowl of tea, a deep listening to our fellow human or perhaps even a real look into each other’s eyes. No gadget can ever take the place of real human connection. Sharing time over tea is a tremendous opportunity to connect to those we love. Tea is a peaceful state where friendships blossom or are deepened, and preparing tea is itself an expression of friendship.

green teapot and cup with green tea

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“What is the most wonderful thing for people
like myself who follow the Way of Tea? My answer:
The oneness of host and guest,
created through ‘meeting heart to heart’,
and sharing a bowl of tea.”

By Sishitsu Sen, Grand Master XIV, Urasenke School of Tea