Thursday, March 10, 2011

Harmonizing Water and Tea: Choosing the Right Water for Tea- Part 4- Seasonal Influences

When attempting to harmonize water with tea we should also consider the impact of seasonal trends (astrology) on the water we select. If we are getting the water from a natural source we should be cognizant of the season we retrieve the water. Modern conveniences have lead people to become out of touch with the rhythm of the seasons and how it energetically effects us and the world we interact with. Afterall, if we need water we just turn on the tap.

If water is to be retrieved for tea it should be done in the spring. The water that comes from the mountain spring or from the rain during this season is thought to be lighter and more abundant in qi. The water is abundant in qi because this same spring water nurtures the new spring growth, including that of tea. The water is thought to be light because the spring season imparts rising energy into it. This water harmonizes the best for tea because tea is green, contains rising energy, and is in the form of a leaf- it is tied to the element Wood. It is the same water that nurtures the budding tea leaf and so is energetically connected to it. This has been the recent topic of conversation of Section 17. Well Water Is Not Appropriate For Tea.

As Toki of The Mandarin's Tea commented in the past, painstaking efforts were taken to collect the dew from the leaves of willows and lotus during Pre-Ming to harmonize with Pre-Ming Long Jing green tea in Hangzhou. This water was seen to be the softest, it is light enough to float atop the leaves in the morning, and it is the same dew that nourishes the spring Long Jing buds. Traditional Chinese theories thought that dew was the result of the abundant pure yin energy of the moon dispersing over the night. This is why the energy of this dew was deemed the best water to harmonize with their tea.

This consideration is of course for a light bodied tea that will be consumed in the Spring/ Summer. Light water from a high mountain spring also would have similar qualities. The season that you are actually preparing the tea has a different optimal water. In the Winter when the bodies yang energy descends deeply a more heavy, more yin, heavier type water is appropriate that may not necessary come from the higher altitude mountain springs. This is especially true if you are also harmonizing your tea, a darker tea, with the season.

One wanted to note here that the water with the most yin characteristics is not the best water for tea even though water is the truest manifestation of yin in the nature world. Water that is collected in winter, is heavy, dark (black, dark blue), stagnant, has no mineral content, and is collected deep within the earth would be the most yin manifestation of Water, the truest form of water.

This water is not suitable for tea for two reasons. Firstly, It is an extreme manifestation of yin (yin within yin, or over exuberant yin). It has no balance, a therefore cannot harmonize with nature. This water has departed from being open to harmony to perhaps a state of being pathological in nature because it has a tendency to overwhelm. On the other hand water that has some yang characteristics is more balanced, more in harmony with that which it interacts in nature. Qualities such as lightness, softness, rising, and active (yang qualities) give water balance. It can be referred to as Yang within Yin. Water is yin but within it is yang.

Secondly, water that shares these yang qualites is much more in harmony with tea. All tea is a leaf picked in spring, is light, has rising nature, and is green so water with some yang qualities quite naturely harmonize well with all tea which is generally yang in nature. Water is said to be the mother of Wood. All tea is said to be energetically attached to the element Wood. If the mother cannot be flexable to the needs of its son/daughter then how can it nuture its growth?



A Student Of Tea said...

So if the water coming from springs in winter is overly yin and not suitable, what is the alternative for winter time?
Store water in autumn for winter?


Matt said...


Water coming from mountain springs is always suitable for tea but water collected in the springtime will harmonize better with tea especially lighter teas. Water from mountain springs collected in the Winter is not as good for lighter teas and is better suited for darker, heavier teas.