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Korean Tea Ceremony and Tea Bowls

About seven years ago, my friend Mi-Kyoung performed a Korean Tea Ceremony for me. The pottery she was using was beautiful, traditional, and we were at her brothers home near Vancouver. The author of several Korean cookbooks, she is used to logically laying out steps. What she was doing was informed by much more than that, though. A Korean Buddhist, for her, the ceremony was an exercise in mindfulness. She wanted to teach me how to do it, but as I watched, I felt bewildered. She also gave me samples of four types of Korean green tea to take home. How was I ever going to remember everything? Before she left to go back to Korea, she gave me a gift of Korean green tea, very fine tea. Later, at home, I bookmarked a website that led me through all the steps I’d just witnessed. I have never mastered it, though. In North America, tea is brewed quickly, without much thought. If we order tea at a coffee shop, there’s no time investment at all. Millions of those cups, sleeves and plastic lids must be thrown away daily and I must be one of the very few who orders ‘for here’ or, if there’s no choice, takes the cup and lid home to recycle it. It’s the Throwaway Society, after all. A quick cup of orange pekoe? No comparison with Mi-Kyoung tea ceremony. Another area I know little about is tea bowls. To make one, it seems like one must have a huge knowledge base…then subtract, subtract to the point where there is utter simplicity. Because of my great ignorance in this area, there is little or nothing I can speak to, save presenting the work of others. A beautiful site that is well worth looking at is called Dawan, Chawan, Chassabal or Teabowl. Not only is it a beautifully designed blog featuring tea bowls, the site, by Cho Pak, Korean American artisan/teacher/author, is also very informative. Affiliated sites are Tea Tour Korea, and Morning Earth Pottery. What follows is a five-minute video of Korean tea country, tea ceremonies, and beautiful traditional dress.

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