Mindful Tea Drinking

DSCN1487After our sitting and walking we enjoy a cup of tea together. The time we spend eating or drinking can also be a meditative practice so we take some time to fully enjoy our tea!

Guidelines for Serving Tea to the Sangha

Dear Sangha,

Serving tea to the sangha is another loving and engaged way of practicing dana (generosity).  If you think you might enjoy this practice but haven’t served tea before, we hope you will find the following instructions helpful.

  1. Arrive by 4:40-4:45 (15-20 minutes before meditation begins) with one gallon of non-caffeinated tea (caffeine-free, herbal, or floral). Approach tea preparation as a mindfulness practice, allowing yourself enough time so that you don’t feel rushed.  Some people bring the tea lightly sweetened with honey or agave nectar, and others don’t.
  2. Trays and extra cups are stored in the closet by the small studio.  Arrange 2 trays with 20 cups (total), and fill half or all of them prior to meditation.
  3. Before or after our sitting/walking meditation, invite another member of the sangha to serve tea with you.  Get a final count of attendance — including one for the Buddha — and adjust the number of teacups as needed.  (Some people leave and others arrive after the first hour.)
  4. Bring the Buddha his tea first, mindfully carrying his cup of tea separately (without a tray), and place it on the altar with a bow before and after serving the tea.
  5. You and the person assisting should both begin serving at the same point in the circle (usually the dharma facilitator or bell master for the evening) and move away from each other until everyone is served.
  6. As you approach each person, smile and bow to them.  They will bow to you.  Kneel onto one knee or bend at the waist to lower the tray.  Offer them the tray to select a cup.  Bow to them again before moving to the next person.  If someone is away from their cushion, usually the neighbor will take a cup for them.  You can signal them with a nod, in case they are unaware of this custom or haven’t noticed.
  7. During announcements, whoever is leading dharma discussion will ask for a volunteer to take the cups home to be washed and returned next week.  In the rare event when cups taken home to be washed have not been returned in time to serve tea in them, we have successfully used paper cups from the yoga center.
  8. After sangha, please stay long enough to clean up and put away the trays and any leftover cups, and remember to take your tea container home with you.

A lotus to you for serving the sangha!