Doing Your Own Thing or Following the Rules



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Doing your own thing or following the rules is something I have been thinking about a lot recently. Being in lockdown really makes you think about stuff like this. Why do some people don’t follow the guidelines regarding social distancing? During today’s tea session, I used these ideas and started thinking about following rules while making and serving tea. How much following is too much and how much should one do his/her own thing? This article is only about brewing tea and has nothing to do with the whole lockdown situation. This situation just got me thinking…

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Following the Rules

Brewing and serving tea is a tradition that has been done for thousands of years. This implies that there are a lot of guidelines on how to do it properly. How should you hold a teapot? How hot should the water be? Which brewing vessel is the best? How should you pour? For every question, there is at least one answer. This is good because it teaches people how to brew and serve tea. If no such tradition existed, how would we get the most out of the tea leaves?

Unfortunately, the fact that there are so many rules can be overwhelming for some people. They feel scared and unsure if they are doing it in the right way. They actually forget to be in the moment and focus too much on the details. In order to brew tea the way it wants to be brewed, you need to listen to the leaves and fully experience the session. This is not possible when you’re thinking about how you should hold your teapot or if the teapot has the right shape for a particular type of tea. You will get more out of the session and out of the tea when you focus on what is happening, instead of what could be wrong.

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Doing Your Own Thing

You need the basic guidelines to know what you’re doing, but it’s still your own journey. The world of loose leaf tea is so big that you need to find your own way. If someone says that you should brew oolong tea in a Zisha teapot with a particular shape, why shouldn’t you experiment with different materials and shapes? What or who is stopping you? It might be very rewarding to discover new things this way.

In my opinion, experimenting and trying new things is one of the best ways to learn and expand your knowledge. Knowing what works is good, but knowing what doesn’t work is at least as valuable. Start from the rules and go your own way; do your own thing and see where it gets you. If you took a wrong turn, just go back to the start and try again.

It’s good there are rules, but they should never become more than guidelines. If you focus on them too much, you lose track of what is really important: you and the leaves in the moment. 

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