In Lú Tóng’s famous poem, “Song of Seven Cups,” he mentions that the sixth cup of tea “calls him to the immortals,” or in other translations, helps him “access the spirit realm.” Though he may be using tea here as a poetic device, the truth behind his words is that because of the rich history of tea, drinking it can help us to feel closer to those who may have gone on before us. With Memorial Day coming up this weekend, today we wanted to discuss the ways in which tea can be used to commune with the memories of our ancestors and other passed loved ones.
By its very nature, a tea ceremony is meant to be a time of reverential contemplation. While you’re also meant to enjoy the company around you, the process of sipping a cup of tea and discovering its secrets is inherently introspective. As you drink tea and look inside yourself, remember all those who have helped shape your life, especially those who may no longer be with us, and exist only in our memories.
In Chinese culture, Pu-erh tea is often passed down from generations to generations as an heirloom. Drinking tea that’s been passed on to us by someone who has toiled and provided for us our whole lives is a uniquely humbling experience. And, since Pu-erh tea has no expiration date, it’s very possible that you may drinking the same tea that they enjoyed many years prior. In this way, tea has a way of enhancing and contextualizing our memories, establishing a point of connection with loved ones who may no longer be around to physically share tea with us.
Next time you drink tea, let the meditative calm of each sip bring you closer and closer to the memories of those you miss the most.
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