Sitting alone, away from the world,
at one with the rhythms of nature,
liberated from attachments to
the material world and bodily comforts,
. . . a person making and drinking tea
in contemplation approaches
a sublime state of tranquility.
- Soshitsu Sen XV.
In the first three installments of this series we traced the early history of tea in Japan.
We noted that the Chinese methods of tea preparation and consumption were introduced to Japan in the eighth century by
Zen Buddhist monks. Originally used as an aid to meditation, tea consumption soon became a popular secular activity.
Among the wealthy feudal lords and the samurai, tea gatherings were widely used as a venue for raucous parties and
ostentatious displays of wealth.
The most valued artifacts of the time were of Chinese origin. The office of the Shogun amassed a great collection of artistic
treasures, including the rarest of Chinese tea utensils. Experts in such matters were retained to supervise the
displays and authenticate new acquisitions. It is no coincidence that these experts were Buddhist monks.
For centuries Buddhist monks had studied Chinese art, literature, and philosophy.
"Upton Tea Imports was founded in 1989 with the objective of providing the North American tea drinker with
the finest teas available. We purchase teas from reputable brokers and estates worldwide, dealing only with
sources who are capable of providing top quality teas. We sell directly to the consumer, thus ensuring the
freshest product and fairest pricing."