The idea of “harmony between humanity and nature” is the essence of the age old Chinese cultural legacy. Feng Shui, traditional medicine, 24 solar terms, calligraphy, Go, tea… are all involved. Tea teaches one how to live, and after achieving the best of herself, Wang Qiong is now sharing the way of the tea.
Let’s discuss about your journey with tea. In 20 years, what has been its greatest pleasure?
As an Easterner, to be able to blend tea into my livelihood, and life itself, is a blessing. I created this school in the hope that I can share this awareness and gratitude of the blessing tea has brought me for the past 20 years. Nobody knows how this journey will be; it is possibly a gift from God. This discovery of tea began with unawareness, and then, slowly assimilating tea into my life, and slowly beginning to understand it; at the same time, since opening Hejingyuan Tea House in Shenyang in 1996 until now, operating the tea house and school in Beijing, it has been a growing journey for myself and this enterprise.
This 20-year journey has changed my heart significantly. Tea is not a religion, but it has become my faith. I have found myself, brought out previously unrealized values, and obtained self-control and happiness – at anytime and anywhere, I can feel peaceful. The most painful things to resolve at this modern time are entanglement, confrontation and non-acceptance; life is relationships, and a free life needs warm and harmonious relationships, as well as finding how to maintain the balance in one’s heart. In Tao, a cup of tea lets one connect with nature; in Confucianism, it is for interpersonal relationships within the community; in Buddhism, it is to unravel the relationship with oneself. Tea improves these journeys in life, and with happiness, brings us home.
Please share the meaning of the “energy” in a cup of tea.
When there is tea, there is a quiet energy. Through a cup of tea, there will be insights into our own habits and mindsets. For a tea master, with the thousands times practice on pouring water, for example, if we are not in mastery over the movements of our hands, how can we be aware of our own heart? The hands control the flow, and the flow reflects the steadiness of our hearts, and our mastery over it. Tea ceremony training is a wholly tangible thing that seeps into our awareness; by brewing a cup of tea, the person and tea become one, and will be able to find peace. While putting aside any external circumstances, has the process of savoring tea become merely a matter of hand movements? No, that leaves out the energy of the tea. When you get the enlightenment in a cup of tea, your happiness will come. For a tea master to be able to express and share the greatest values received from every cup of tea, it takes more than just practice.
Since “tea is worth its weight in gold”, how do you consider tea’s pricing?
I think in this era there are all kinds of label, including the label of having astronomical price. The astronomical price, to an extent, satisfies the unusual demand in the market where people “do not buy the right one, but buy only the most expensive one”, but slowly, as people’s understanding of tea gets deeper, these pricing will naturally disappear; it is inevitable.
What are the characteristics of the Hejingyuan’s specialty “Shen Shi Tea”?
The character “Shen” is both pointing upward to the sky and downward to the ground. Shen Shi is the period when the body mechanism runs smoothly from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet. During this time, the body is able to absorb a certain amount of energy from the tea that will be utilized to physically improve itself. In addition, twenty minutes of meditation and a cup of tea every day can be the time to empty one’s mind, in order to contemplate the way to move forward.
What is the general background of Hejingyuan’s students?
In the first two years, there were mostly professionals from the tea industry, such as tea-house operators, tea masters, tea merchants and so on. Slowly, students from all walks of life came. This generation is rushed, restless, nervous and anxious, and with the opportunity of visionary service, we hope to integrate tea into their lives, wishing that a cup of tea will bring them peacefulness.