“Just Tea?”

“Just Tea?” Is tea, just tea?
@Yaya linked to this “Just Tea?” video clip on f/b recently, and I remembered I’d seen it before in German, but hadn’t talked about it. It’s pretty interesting to watch, see if you agree or disagree. For me, it fits my thinking. With a few exceptions; notably most tea in teabags. As tolerant as I’d like to be, those chopped up leaves don’t quite make the cut. Pun intended.

While the English language clip can’t be embedded, here’s the dialog. It’s an extract from the movie “Huo Yuan Jia” (aso known as Jet Li’s Fearless.) Huo Yuan Jia (1869-1910) was a martial arts expert, and the founder and spiritual guru of the Jin Wu Sports Federation. What’s all this got to do with tea? Read and watch. In this clip he’s sharing tea with Tanaka, a Japanese martial arts expert, just before they face an important competition:

Tanaka: Mr. Huo, according to what you say, you don’t really know the
nature of tea.
Huo: It’s not that I don’t know. I don’t really want to know. Because I don’t care about evaluating teas. Tea is tea.
Tanaka: But each tea has its own character and properties.
Huo: What is the purpose of grading? These many teas are grown in nature, all of them.
Is there a discernible difference?
Tanaka: Yes, once you learn this, you can tell the difference between
teas.
Huo: What you say may be right, but the way I see it is, the tea doesn’t judge itself. It’s people that judge its grading. Different people choose different things. As for me, as far as I’m concerned, I just don’t want to make any choice.
Tanaka: – Is that so?
Huo: – Drining tea is a mood, really. If you are in a good mood, the grade of tea doesn’t matter.
Tanaka: I never looked at it like that. I understand that there are many wushu fighting styles. Are you saying that no style is greater than another?
Huo: That’s what I’m saying.
Tanaka: If that is true, I want to ask you, if wushu does not differ in any way, why do we fight each other?
Huo: I believe for all the styles of wushu, there is no single one that is superior. All of those who practice different styles of wushu, they would naturally have a different level of skill. Through competition, we can discover ourselves.
Tanaka: What you just said makes me have more respect for you.
Here’s the vid in German@lahikmajoe for you! For everyone else, just click the English link .
http://youtu.be/KOaTNAUHXpc

  9 comments for ““Just Tea?”

  1. Profile photo of Xavier
    June 8, 2012 at 9:29 am

    “Drinking tea is a mood, really. If you are in a good mood, the grade of tea doesn’t matter.”

    True but the taste does matter.

  2. Profile photo of Gingko
    June 8, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Oh I remember this scene. I didn’t like that movie very much but liked this scene. I think it says a lot about hierarchical-mind and lack of it.
    I’ve seen a lot of people who tend to rank tea strictly or follow the mainstream ranks strictly. For example, some would think early harvest green tea *is better* than late harvest. Some would say pure tea *is better* than jasmine tea. Some would even say puerh is better than black tea. But what if somebody just prefer the late harvest or a tea that’s not preferred by another person? “Better” and “best” are all relative. One person can hardly say what’s better or best for another person.

  3. Profile photo of Gingko
    June 8, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Just thought of it. Did I miss the hangout last night?! I’ve been staying home every day in the past week and kind of lost the idea what day each day was!

  4. Profile photo of Gingko
    June 8, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    I thought the video just had German captions. But it has got German voice! Both of them look cute speaking German :-D

  5. Profile photo of Robert Godden
    June 8, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    The real message here is that if you don’t like his tea, he can cut you in half with one swift movement of his arm.
    Drink the tea and shut up, Grasshopper.

  6. Profile photo of jopj
    June 8, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    I read this earlier this week and took the time to ponder the concept.
    I do agree that in good company (mood) I will enjoy the whatever the “grade” of tea, as the company enhances the experience.
    When buying tea I still choose and search out tea that I will enjoy.
    Even then there are no guarantees, the art of finding the right brewing construct that fits your palate is another consideration.
    I lean more towards the mindset of Lu Feng Lu, director of the WuLing Teafarm.The quotation transcribed from the film “The Meaning Of Tea”

    “So when I come across a good tea I remember it for many years.
    The memory of that tea stays with me for a long time.
    For a tea to be very good, you need the right combination of heaven, earth and man”

    Which brings up a related question, Have you tried The Devoteas teas? He has the right combination.

  7. Profile photo of bram
    June 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Good tea is the sum of many things, human included. It is part of the chinese character for tea for this reason.

    The best tea is the tea that suits the drinker best at the moment of drinking.

    That does not mean that gradings and other qualities can´t be discussed, just that it is not simple the better the tea the better the tea. There are much more dimensions at play here.

  8. Profile photo of Jackie
    June 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks @xavier, @gingkoseto, @thedevotea, @jopj, @bram for your interesting comments. There I was “rushing” into my next blog post and hadn’t even thanked you all. Wish I had a “reply to” option to each comment. This theme doesn’t.
    @savier – taste does matter yes, but taste is affected by mood to a certain extent.
    @gingkoseto – I agree with your views, especially with the teas you listed as commonly considered “best.” But like you said, it’s relative.
    @thedevotea you’re probably already taking martial arts lessons to deal with anyone who doesn’t immediately rave about your teas. (Unthinkable of course.)
    @jopj: totally agree that there is an art to finding the right brewing, that fits your palate. Not always easy. And true, memories of a really good tea do linger. Love the right combo of “heaven, earth and man,”
    @bram: Human is part of the Chinese character for tea? “The best tea is the tea that suits the drinker best at the moment of drinking.” I like that statement.

  9. Profile photo of bram
    June 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I’ve seen other sources somewhere else but this shows it well:
    The chinese character for tea
    http://askandyaboutclothes.com/Lifestyle/History%20of%20Tea.htm

    If I remember correctly it is also in the Classic of tea by Lu Yu, but I don’t have it here at work.

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