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"I'll give you my tasting notes"

It comes as a natural impulse of many tea drinkers to reject labels, and to place value on experience -- unaffected by words. Many of us resist, or outright avoid, being told what to expect from a given tea, before we have the chance to feel it out for ourselves. It is for this same reason, that among many tea friends, the phrase "I'll give you my tasting notes" is tantamount to go fly a kite

Some people need to hear about the origins of a tea, its current market value, its provenance -- including the name of the person who picked it. However, all of this and more can be realized by being fully present in the ritual of tea — in each moment. It is a level of attentiveness which does not necessarily demand silence, though this can be helpful as we are learning to adjust the microscope of the heart-mind.

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'when you are looking for fine tea, fine tea is also looking for you'

Many have to hear all of the bio-data about a product before they can submit to the enjoyment of it. The mind, trickster that it is often makes fools of such tea aficionados. For while they may be well developed economically or socially, the quality of inner-civilization and supreme self reliance (confidence) is in short supply.

The statement of my teacher, Master He, that 'when you are looking for fine tea, fine tea is also looking for you' is most valid. Many a wealthy collector is drinking fugazi tea, having been told it is old and rare. This is a little inside joke of the tea industry expert. It is unfortunate, but ultimately the by product of arrogance, a quality which the tea itself retreats from quietly -- or more accurately is but a specter at such banquets.

To taste tea -- from a trusted source -- not knowing at first its age, price or pedigree, and to respond to it honestly and naturally, based upon inner experience. This is the beginning of the practice of tea as a way (of life).

Erick Smithe

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