Humans have virtues, and so can tea, at least according to Liu Zhenliang, a famous tea drinker in China’s Tang Dynasty, who outlined tea with 10 virtues: dispersing depression, dispersing drowsiness, nurturing liveliness, dispersing illness, setting up virtue and courtesy, expressing respect, distinguishing different tastes, nurturing the body, practicing Dao, and refining one’s aspirations.
“Tea brings Dao and elegance,” he was often heard saying.
A well-known Japanese Buddhist priest also summarized his version of the 10 virtues of tea as following:
“Protective deities will be willing to help, parents will be respected and supported, demons will surrender, one can be always full of spirit even without much sleep, internal organs will coordinate well, diseases and disasters will be far away, friendship will be in harmony, thoughts and behaviors will be righteous, troubles and worries will cease, and one will not be in chaos in facing death.”
Tea has evolved gradually from a casual drink to a unique cultural vehicle. It now represents a pursuit of sensibility and enjoyment toward life, as well as a practice that has spiritual depths. People who are keen on tasting tea are usually abstinent, adhere to integrity, and pay attention to traditions, as well as cherish friendship, according to the book The Classic of Tea.
Tea possesses a natural character of being fresh. Apart from providing sensory enjoyment, tea is also capable of enlightening, keeping a calm mind and soul, helping character cultivation, eliminating distractions, and assisting self-cultivation. The benefits of tea culture conform to oriental philosophy of “being calm, quiet, indifferent, and independent.”
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