tea in celebration of the full moon

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When I first began studying tea, I came across a wonderful tea scroll at Urasenke Foundation in San Francisco, where Japanese tea ceremony is taught.  "Pure wind sweeps the bright moon.  The bright moon sweeps the pure wind," read the scroll. It is thought that nature should always be brought into the tea room, either through flowers, poetry, or art.  It can also be fun to take the "tearoom" out into nature.

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Paying homage to nature and its rhythms has long been a pastime for tea lovers from Asian traditions, and it is one of the loveliest aspects of tea culture that we might consider inheriting. Full moon is a great excuse to do so, and to share tea with friends. My friends and I sometimes take tea on top of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean so we can watch the sun set to the west and the moon rise from the east soon after.

We take a couple of thermoses of water that have been brought to a near boil, a few cups, a gaiwan or yixing pot, some tea, of course, and something to eat. The hike out to the ocean takes a half hour or so, and we try to leave an hour before sunset. We find that taking green, white or other teas that require lower temperatures to work best for obvious reasons, though we have been successful at brewing even Taiwanese oolongs on cold evenings. It just takes a little more patience, and with the awe-inspiring scenes before us, the extra time it takes to brew the tea makes for a deeper appreciation of both the nature around us and the tea when it finally expresses its fullest identity.

Taking tea outside under a full moon is great during the summer and autumn months when the weather is warmer, but in winter, enjoying the view of the full moon from a dining room or living room window while sipping tea works quite well also.

Raise your teacup to the moon, giving thanks for tea, for nature, and for the joy of being here, a part of the planet around which the golden lunar orb so loyally revolves.
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