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Sencha Morning

This morning my longing for Japan grew strong, and I suddenly thought of a little teacup, I had hidden away in a box. First time I went to Kyoto, Japan, I was invited by my danish zen teacher Tim to go to Konchi-in tempel in Kyoto, and visit his zen-teacher, Tanaka-Roshi, who was the zen-master there. We were invited in his little study, surrounded by a garden, full of books, scrolls and teaware, and were treated both with matcha and sencha. We talked about tea, and he gave me this little cup…

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Drinking tea out on the sunny balcony: Amethyst Gaba Oolong from Mei Leaf. Roasted coffee, dark chocolate, liqourice, tar, sweetness. And after eight steeps, a LOT of gaba in the body… : )

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Steeping the tea overnight, it was still brilliant. And the tea leaves looked like something never seen before…

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Wonderful pressed white tea by Elton Powell from ‘Tea For You’ : ) Sage incense cone, reading ‘the best prayers from around the world’, also from famous persons. Some very universal and uplifting – as the tea. It is round, sweet and light, and leaves me a bit teadrunk after a few hours – maybe I should have breakfast soon ; )

Tea-greetings from Ulla

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Matcha morning

Matcha bowl from Sogen-ji Zen Monastery in Okayama, Japan. Ceremonial Matcha from Clearspring. The left over foam looking like a kings (or queens) crown… with some phantasy. Reading haiku by Jack Kerouac, and my newest book about hiking paths.

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More outdoor tea… “Amber Gaba Oolong”, Spring 2019, Cultivar Chin Xin, from Alishan, Nantou, Taiwan, elevation 1000 m, picking One bud two leaves. Mei Leaf writes:

“EYES – DRY LEAF: Tight rolled burnt raisin brown balls.
NOSE – DRY LEAF: Slightly fermented raisins and dried prunes.
NOSE – WET LEAF: Apricot jam, wet wood and scotch sweetness.
EYES – LIQUOR: Golden amber.
MOUTH – TEXTURE: Medium and refreshing.
MOUTH – TASTE: Summer rain on city streets, chestnut honey, wine gums and apricots.
NOSE – EMPTY CUP: Apricot kombucha.
MOUTH – FINISH: Soft and long.
EYES – WET LEAF: Auburn and dark moss green large leaves.
BODY SENSATION: Relaxed, creative inspiration.”

“Roasted that little but extra to produce a honey like brew which contrasts perfectly with the slight acidity from the Gaba.”

Out in the early summer sun, I having outdoor tea at 9.30 pm til 10.30 and still going. Brewing steep 5 now, in a gaiwan set arranged on a bamboo mat and a tea cloth. I brought it all out here, on a bench made of a halved treetrunk, sitting next to a footpath surrounding Kokkedal Castle. It has a view of the sea, across a field of grass and nettles, waving in the wind. The sun makes the sea glisten white and golden. The calming Gaba tea is honey golden.

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The tiny grey Buddha is with me, accompanied by a tiny white rose and a birds feather, I found on my way here. He has been placed on a wooden stand, I bought on a fleemarked the other day, in one of the big villas down at the ea. A 90y old person had died and left a home full of eastern inspiration, thai girls dancing on pictures on the wall, living koi carps in a pond between the house and the grass lawn towards the sea. A little memory of the soul of the home and his owner, without having known him.

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Reading an article in “Buddhism and Culture”, the poetry of korean munk Ven. Jo O-hyeon. His deathpoem says: “Having made a headlong rush / my head held high making empty boasts / hair grows all over my body / and horn grows from my forehead.” And about life:

“Now really the days living on the mountain / One day chirping like a bug in the grass / Another day smiling like a flower in the field / Only to see the flow that has fulfilled the flow.”

(From ‘Days living in the Mountain’)

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Continuing reading poetry, haiku in an old ‘Blythe Spirit’. I like one poets way of collecting a series of haiku aboyt one subject, under one headline: ‘Colour of loneliness. Paintings by Alfred Wallis in Kettles yatd, Cambridge”. Duncan Gardiner. Followed by two pages of haiku, alternating left- and right on the page – and a black-and-white drawing of a dragonfly on the right page, with a handwritten haiku ‘attached’ to it and signature of the painter (not the poet himself).

‘dragonfly / on the clothes prop / washing must wait’

My own, made here, drinking tea:

Hot summer day – / the grasses’ shadows dance / just like the real thing

Brambles with long thorns – / their shadow version / doesn’t hurt

Waving in the hot wind / watching the grass turn golden – / a cup of gaba tea

Summer morning sun / the shadow of my woven hat / in my teacup

Drinking tea in the forrest / little girl running up to me / not thinking it strange

China Fairy Oolong

Here we are. Tea again.

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Summer solstice celebration both evening and morning. With candles, and now a simple matcha and a genmaicha. I chose a big tray to have everything brought out to the balcony…

A few years ago I painted the tray myself, inspired by a chinese plate, we used in a japanese tea ceremony. The eight so-called trigrams are chinese, combinations of broken lines (yin) and unbroken ones (yang). Together, they are symbols for the eight world directions, if you look at it like a compass, used for feng shui – but also, if looked at it as a circle and as a motion clockwise, for the seasons of the year, the energies shifting throught it. The symbols on the tray, starting at the top, clockwise, are:

☲ 離 Li – Fire – warmth – sun – summer solstice
☷ 坤 K’un – Earth – female – receiving – yin
☱ 兌 Tui – Lake – joy – autum equinox – harvest
☰ 乾 Ch’ien – Heaven – male – yang – power
☵ 坎 K’an – Water – winter solstice – cold – resting
☶ 艮 Ken – Mountain – calm – heavy – quiet
☳ 震 Chen – Thunder – energies awaken – spring equin.
☴ 巽 Sun – Wind – energy blown into everthing – spring

Combined, they form the 64 hexagrams in the I Ching, where each symbol has 6 lines. And summer solstice traditionally seemed to be used for divination… which is right now : )

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Today I had a day off in the middle of the week, and since the weather still is like this, sunny and warm, I decided to do a proper outdoor tea. I did qi gong on the grass, and went for a swim afterwards (More text tomorrow).

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Mystery oolong

The weather is changing, the wind is in the tall trees, but sunshine is still blessing us with presence and light. I found a ‘mystery’ tea in a ceremic container, a dark oolong. Using a 40-20-40 sec for the first three brews. And while the wet leaves nearly give me a shock of coffee and bitterness,  the drink itself is pleasantly golden, lightly roasted, only with hints of coffee. The colour of it looks just like the amber jewelry I am wearing. Frozen sunshine. Hidden sunshine, stored in the form of dried leaves – and petrified resin – for later enjoyment. Isn’t that wonderful.

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I lean back on the cussions of my bamboo chair, registering that one of the big buds on my rhododendron has open into a big burst of purple. A hummingbee comes humming and hovering over it like a hummingbird, finally diving into one of the nectar and pollen proving flowers. Happiness is not further away, isn’t it? It all comes together, inside and outside, mind and body, heart and soul.

I brought out here a sniffing cup and saucer, too, a celadon with fish design of two fish swimming like a taoist yin-yang symbol. Sniffing the tall cup, it reveals the best version of the tea until now, coffee balanced by sweetness, depth, and roundness.

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I am reading “The Secrets of Chinese Meditation”, and just the first page gives me even more peace, by reminding me of one of the main mantras from my zen meditation and retreat time:

“We take refuge in the Buddha / We take refuge in the Dharma/ We take refuge in the Sangha / We take refuge in the Triple Gem within ourselves.”

Have a good sunday…

First matcha …

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Then: Phoenix Dan Cong ‘Duck Poo’, 2017, from The Chinese Tea Company, Portobello Rd, London.

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Next morning again, still this sunlight on the balcony. Emptied the package that day:

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Reading ‘Diary of an Edwardian Lady, 1906’, and a history about Denmark. A book with stamps or pictures collected from a coffee surrogate brand called Richs. There was on in every package, and the book wuth emoty spaces for them was printed in 1962. Found it in a cgarity shop. Here the ‘golden horns’ from the 400’s, found in southern Denmark in 1639 and 1734. The heaviest was about 3 kg. Then, in 1802 or so, stolen from the museum, melted, and made into jewelry, never found again…

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