Even though February was my month of tea travel, travel is not an isolated event. I felt like I spent a month preparing and readying beforehand and a month processing and recovering afterwards.
I brought back this large paper from an art store in Taiwan, almost double the width of a usual scroll, as you cut it yourself. I thought since these three months have blended together for me, I would allow them to be expressed in that way as well, each taking up a third of the paper. I used an ink stick I bought in Taiwan, mixed with each of the tea of the months, for the ink on each enso.
January 2018 "Tieguanyin" 2017 Traditional Oolong
January's Tea & Tao Magazine from Global Tea Hut was about Tea and Diet. I learned about diet while I served at Tea Sage Hut. I got to help prepare meals, all served bowl style. I got to water the growing farm, cut herbs right before they were needed in the recipe, and see organic vegetables bought from a farmer's market, and surprisingly, the art store. I learned I do have time for cooking and to treasure the connection with the food and the time spent making it. I miss papaya.
The tea part of the January issue, "Teiguanyin," was provided by Mr. Xie, whose farm I got to visit during my stay at the Hut. I got to pick tea, two small leaves and a bud set, and then we got to process it over a traditional wok stove to make green tea. Mr. Xie dried the tea for us while he served us many delicious teas he makes, and we all left a little tea drunk and with our own bag of green tea we had all helped to make. For my "Teiguanyin" enso I printed two of the spent leaves to make it look like the bud and leaf sets I had picked.
February 2018 "Samadhi" Late 1990s Shou Puerh
February's Tea & Tao Magazine was about Tea & Zen. It actually didn't come before I left, but there was a copy waiting in the guest room at the Hut. At the Hut they practice what they call "daily life Zen." I'm still not sure I know exactly what Zen is, but to me, I learned that you can find treasure pulling weeds, that it really is nice to just be without knitting or reading, and that once I found a way to sit that my hip didn't hurt and my leg didn't fall asleep immediately, I came to love the morning and evening hour long meditations .
I also now associate Zen with the smell of incense, which was practically always going on one of the many altars at the Hut. I lit a coil I had purchased from Taiwan while I enjoyed a session with Samadhi. February's enso was inspired by a spent coil of incense, and I rubbed some ash on it as well.
March 2018 "Swirling Mist" 2014 Sheng Puerh
March's Tea & Tao Magazine was about Tea Travels. How fitting. In between staying and serving at the Hut, I traveled to Sun Moon Lake for a few days. It was terrifying for me and I cried the whole first train, but thanks to information centers where someone usually spoke English, and kind police officers who got me where I needed to be from my written instructions, I made it safely. I wanted to go there because the very first tea I had from Global Tea Hut, in October 2016, Elevation, was from that area. Each day I would spend half the day being adventurous and I meditated in a temple, hiked to see old tea trees, and visited a monastery and tree garden. The other half of the day I rested and recouped in my room with tea on the patio and time for art journaling and yoga.
"Swirling Mist" arriving was special. During some service periods at the Hut, I actually got to help quality control the March magazine issue and prepare and pack some tea tins. I had a lot of fun trying to get just the right amount of tea into the tin and did get it once on the first try! So when "Swirling Mist" arrived, I didn't heed the instructions to allow her to settle from her travels. I was incredibly jet-lagged and decided we could be jet-lagged together and keep each other company. The enso for her was about the sensation of traveling, the ups and downs, the stretching and amazing, the grace and provision.
Lee Ann Hilbrich, MA, LMFT, LPC, CDWF, RYT 200
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