Guest Post – A tea poem by Jonathon Ready

A fine youg ChaRen

This is a guest tea poem written by Jonathon Ready;

I was sitting in her tea house.  My breaths came harder every time.  The air was thick with the steam from the boiling kettles.  Drip Drip Drip the water runs off my nose falling on the Tatami mats.  FFFF exhale, FFFF exhale, humidity coating my nose and the scent of brewing Oolong mixed with a floral scent.  I yearn to keep feeling.  I open my eyes and the type of light that you get from hardwood and candlelight allows me to sense the center.  My whole body aches when she picks me and lays me down on a bamboo mat.  She carefully waits as I dry she is carefully doing this to me, but I know she is doing it for her own enjoyment.  She withers me and rolls me.  Just the way I like it.  She likes to bruise me.  I like the pain too.  She lightly roasts me and tosses me with her bare hands.  The heat and the fruit-wood smoke.  Perfect. Then she leaves me there balled up in the fetal position.  She picks me up like a baby and drops me into my bath.  I unfurl, weightless.  And she enjoys me.

 

That was…  sexy….
I don’t think it was referring to any of the other institute members…

The Telos of Teaware

This is a draft section of my upcoming book “An introduction to the art and Science of Chinese Tea Ceremony”. Please help improve it with your comments, suggestions, and hate mail!

What is the goal of teaware? To what end does it exist for? Was that decided by the maker or the user?

In the simplest utilitarian approach, it may be said that any ware used is for the purpose of moving tea from its dry, leafy form to the mouth as a drinkable liquor; this is appealing as it is both simple and true. Yet, it ignores both the intent of the artist who made the wares, and the experience of the brewer and guests in the ceremony.

From the Functionalist approach, we know that a ware must be the most suitable choice for a tea as a reason for its use; beauty is a consideration but secondary to its function. With this approach could it be said that the purpose, the telos, of a thick yixing is to brew strong tea?  Was that the intent of the artist, and thus the most suitable use of the ware?

The Functionalist approach gives us a few answers; I’m sure we have all seen unusable ‘tea pots’, pots that were made as art instead of ware. The functionalist approach has us, practitioners of GongFu, ignore those. Their Telos is not tea.

From the Functionalist approach, what can be understood from the intent of the artist? Nothing. A single ware is a momentary glimpse of the artists vision, an exhibition of his pieces not but a brief window into his thoughts. The goal of the artist is to make wares, while the goal of the practitioner (if the pieces are usable) is to use the wares. The telos has changed from one person to the next, from one use to the next.

Continue reading

Changes in tempo, changes in lifestyle.

It’s been 4 months since I have written on tea – 4 months since I have written for my book; far too long in my opinion.

2 ½ years ago I started a company, Analytical Flavor Systems, based on my research at the Tea Institute at Penn State. It’s a journey that I’m still on. In building this company, I have had to remake myself, changing the focuses of my attention, and changing the lifestyle that I have enjoyed. Willingly, of course. I have gone from being an academic to an entrepreneur, though I have retained my predilection for academic inanities.

Building this company has increasingly required my focus and attention; it is truly only possible to have one thing ‘at the top of your mind’, one thing that resides in the forefront of your consciousness. Building a company requires attention and dedication to the process of innovation and improvement. In the early days of a company, any idea, any decision, must be tested quickly and thoroughly, least it lead the team to a dead end – and the end of the company.

At the end of last year, I transitioned away from the Directorship of the Tea Institute, and now have only an advisory role (I still administer the Tea Institute examination). I still love tea. I still practice tea ceremony, though not as often as I would like. My involvement in tea has lessened, but my passion for the practice has not waned.

Over the past 4 months, my team decided to double down and work full time (read ‘over time’) on the company. 7 of us moved into a 2 room apartment to work 13 hour days, 5 days a week on executing, testing, and iterating our technology, business plan, and customer development. Being surrounded by a team driven to meet a shared goal has enchanting properties, including super human focus, and increase productivity. It also leaves no time for personal freedom or activities. Such is what we choose to give up when building a company.

Things have calmed down a bit now. Our infrastructure and technology stack has stabilized, our customer development process has been successful, and we have all become better at what we do. That means less time is needed to execute, and we can spend more time balancing our lives and other interests.

I plan to see my company to success. I plan to see my book to completion. For the readers I have maintained, at the cost of a 4 month wait for a post only tangentially about tea, I can assure you, there will be less waiting in the future.

Ever onward,
Jason

Food to Avoid. Part 2.

This is a quick follow up post on supporting and purchasing products that aren’t slowly poisoning you with pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides;

Or producers that slap “Organic” all over their label, but support anti-GMO labeling laws in congress.

Or brands that are ‘secretly’ owned by mega-corps that support political conservatism or environmental destruction.

 

Thankfully, we are not alone in this fight;

a new app, Buycott, for Android and iOS, tracts the political donations, environmental destruction, and use of inorganics in food.

you can read more about it here: http://buycott.com/

I don’t agree with every campaign on it, but that’s the point.

Anyone can make a campaign, and you can chose to join and support it, or not.

 

- Jason