Tea as Daoist Meditation, with Robert Coons

After nearly a year hiatus from releasing new episodes, and nearing what’s hopefully the end of a worldwide pandemic, we’re very happy to welcome back Robert Coons to talk with us about tea as a medium for meditation and health, from a Daoist viewpoint. Robert is a well-known teacher and writer on Daoist meditation, a tea vendor, an acupuncturist and practitioner of qigong and martial arts,  and was our guest two years ago in our episode “Tea & Daoism: Adjacent Connections”. He’s about to launch an online course on tea meditation, so we took this opportunity to get an overview of Robert’s perspectives on tea as a meditation practice.

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Emptiness in Tea Practice

When a friend who’s a longtime Buddhist meditation teacher asked me recently if “emptiness” comes into our study and practice of chado, the Japanese way of tea, I didn’t quite know how to answer. On Talking Tea we had chatted a bit about emptiness in a Daoist context, and its relation to tea, in our episode Tea & Daoism: Adjacent Connections, and we touched on some of the connections between tea and Buddhism in a few of our earlier episodes. But I hadn’t thought about how, or if, emptiness comes into play in the specific practices of the Japanese way of tea.

To explore this question further, we asked Drew Hanson, an instructor in the Urasenke school of chado and founder/owner of the Boukakuan Japanese Tea House in New Jersey, to join us again on Talking Tea. (Drew was our guest in two earlier Talking Tea episodes, Tea, Heart to Heart and Chabana: Flowers for Tea.) 

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Talking Teapots, In-Depth with Scott Norton

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When a listener requested an episode about teapots. we realized that this was a topic we haven’t really delved into on Talking Tea. And having attended one of tea blogger, writer and teacher Scott Norton’s incredibly comprehensive seminars on yixing teaware, we invited Scott to join us for an in-depth overview of teapots, their design elements, their history and how to best match your teapots with your teas.  Read the full show notes

Choosing Teaware for Flavor, Aroma and Experience

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Today we welcome back to the show Kevin Gascoyne, of Montreal’s Camellia Sinensis Tea House, to chat with us in depth about how our choices of teaware impact the flavors, aromas and overall experience of the teas we drink. Kevin is often seen sporting his signature Royal Albert teacup, and that prompted us to ask Kevin what’s the deal with this oh-so-English-looking cup. His initial answer inspired us to want to explore more fully how our choice of cup and brewing vessel affect our enjoyment of tea.  Read the full show notes

Chabana: Flowers for Tea

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As December comes to a close and winter deepens here in the northern hemisphere, we’re continuing our turn inward as we conclude our two-part series on the spirit of tea as reflected in chado, the Japanese way of tea. Today we’re focusing on chabana, the art of flowers so integral to Japanese tea ceremony.  Read the full show notes

Okakura and the Spirit of Tea

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We’re getting a bit contemplative this time of year here at Talking Tea, as the weather turns cooler and our bodies and minds begin to turn inward. So this December we’re offering two episodes exploring the spirit of tea as reflected in chado, the Japanese way of tea. To kick off this two-part series we’re looking at the life, work and influence of Kakuzo Okakura (pictured above), best known for his modern classic The Book of Tea.  Read the full show notes

Tea Cocktail Experiments

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Today on Talking Tea we’re doing something a little different from our usual format. A few weeks back we were invited by the folks at Tea Dealers and the 29b Tea House (featured in our prior episode Ambassadors of Tea) to join them in conversation at an evening of tea and alcohol experiments they were planning and record the event for Talking Tea. We did just that, and we’re pleased to bring you the event as a Talking Tea episode.  Read the full show notes

Glimpsing Tea’s Past, Finding Tea’s Presence, at New York’s Floating Mountain

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Today on Talking Tea we’re witnessing tea history brought into the present at the serenely beautiful Floating Mountain teahouse in New York City, where ongoing programs on tea history and tea meditation are opening fresh perspectives on tea preparation and on tea as a contemplative practice.   Read the full show notes

Dong Ding: Everything Taiwanese Tea Has to Offer

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Today we welcome back to Talking Tea Shiuwen Tai of Seattle’s Floating Leaves tea to chat about one of our favorite teas, Taiwan’s celebrated Dong Ding oolong.

Shiuwen believes that Dong Ding represents everything that Taiwan has to offer in terms of producing tea, and we chat about the qualities that make Dong Ding unique in this capacity. We discuss three basic styles of Dong Ding – traditional, fragrant and charcoal roasted – and together we taste and compare both a traditional and a charcoal roasted Dong Ding.  Read the full show notes

Ambassadors of Tea

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There is an amazement of tea that’s hard to capture in words. It can happen when we experience a tea for the first time and are astounded by flavors and aromas unlike anything we’ve experienced before. Or when we revisit one of our favorite teas and find elements we never noticed before. Or when we find ourselves drinking a tea that’s been expertly prepared and artfully presented in a way that awakens all of our senses. 

Today we’re at 29b Teahouse in New York City, where the owners and staff strive to create and recreate these moments of tea amazement every day. We’re talking with Stefen Ramirez and Andreas Vagelatos, two of the owners of 29b, about their unique philosophy and approach to tea.   Read the full show notes