Friday, March 4, 2011

Section 18. On Storing Water

"The jar for storing water must be put in a shady room, it should be covered by silk gauze, so that it absorbs the essence of the stars and dew then its divine quality will not be lost, its spirit will always remain."

Those who do not have a copy of Korean Tea Classics do please follow along and participate by referencing a different English translation available here from The Leaf.

This tea classic will be covered one section a week which will go on for 24 weeks. Feel free to jump in with your commentary at anytime.



LTPR said...

What timing :) I'm all full of curiosity now. Does the silk need to be in contact with the water? Does the vessel need to be stored indoors or out? Even more curious -- I wonder what your own path with water sourcing and storage has been (knowing your choices are particular to your geographical place and resources, and so would not necessarily translate to anyone else's circumstance. Still, to know more of your own investigations into this matter would provide some fine insight, I think :)

Matt said...


Good timing indeed! hahaha... Had a feeling there would be some questions about the silk gauze used to cover the storage container. Every word and phrase in this classic was carefully chosen and has some meaning, the use of the silk gauze is no exception.

The silk gauze is not in direct physical contact with the water but should completely cover the mouth of the storage jar. It is important that silk gauze be used because its properties allow for the retention of the water's essence. Silk gauze is light weight, sheer, reflective, breathable, and strong.

Silk gauze is lightweight. This is important because light weight things don't suppress or weigh down the qi of the water.

Silk gauze is sheer. This allows for some light to pass through. Particularly, for the yin energy of the stars and moon to penetrate into the water strengthening and connecting it to its true yin energy.

Silk gauze reflects light. This is important because it protects the water from sunlight reflecting it away. Sunlight is yang in nature and degrades the true yin energy of water. It is important to note that silk is also degraded by long term sun exposure. So its function is to absorb and reflect sunlight thereby protecting the qi of the water.

Silk gauze is breathable. This is important because the water must breathe if it is to remain fresh. The breathablity of silk allows for the yin energy of nighttime dew to penetrate into the water, imparting the true yin energy of night. It also prevents the fatigue of water if it turns into vapor then drips back into the jar through condensation. The Leaf translation offers a good explanation of this: "exposure to the sun causes its spirit to be exhausted while its vapors are trapped. This drains the spirit of the water."

Silk gauze is quite strong. The thick weave of silk gives it a certain durability. Its tight weave prevents dust and dirt from mixing with the water, ensuring its purity.

Above its function, silk suggests a certain reverence for the water used to make tea which is also important to note.

Regarding the placement of the storage jar, it must simply be put "in a shady room". This passage leads you to believe that it is exposed to the open nights sky but actually exposure to "the essence of the starts and dew" can simply mean to "darkness". Darkness is the energy of true yin, of night.

Because you asked, when the series on water has concluded in a few weeks, one will publish a post on personal experiences with water. In this way the knowledge and theoretical groundwork will be laid and readers can fully appreciate the decision of choosing the right water for tea.


Unknown said...

Interesting look at the Silk Gauze. But I personally like the last sentence of the Korean Tea Classics version:

"If tea looses its freshness, or the water looses its spirit, how will it be different than ditch water?"

It really paints the picture that if you do not treat tea right it is no better than something rather nasty, foul, and commonplace.

Matt said...


That is really a great quote, classic tea hyperbole! It speaks not only to the care needed in storing tea (keeping tea fresh) and storing water (keeping water vibrant), but also to a general respect for the tea and water.


LTPR said...

thank you, matt :)

Matt said...


Notes on Section 18:

Note the comment regarding the traditional view of dew in part four on the series on water here:

"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."

Besides the commentary above one also wanted to mention the importance this section places on keeping the water light, breathable, and free flowing.

"If the cover (of the water storage container) is pressed down by wood or stone, if the jar is sealed with paper or bamboo husks, or if exposed to sunlight, then at the very least its spirit will be scattered and lost; at the very most its energy will be blocked and its spirit will spoil."

The terms "pressed down" and "sealed" suggest that the water is being weighed down and its energy repressed. Light water is valued so silk which is light and breathable is preferred because it retains the soft, light nature of the water.

Sunlight is an abundant yang quality that overpowers and spoils the true yin qualities of water which harmonize with the "stars and dew" of night. As mentioned in the commentary of Section 16. Grades of Spring Water, "water emerging from a shady place is better than a sunny place" - Shady places are more yin, sunny places are more yang. Sun causes the water to accumulate algae, therefore water should never be exposed to light."