London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

The Korean Tea Ceremony – A Natural Approach

It’s nice that while Brother Anthony is in town we are getting to see him on two consecutive nights: with Ko Un on 15 July, and with tea-master Hyoam a day later:

The Korean Tea Ceremony-A Natural Approach

Thursday 16 July 2015 19.00
Korean Cultural Centre UK
Entrance Free but Booking Essential
RSVP to [email protected]

Tea ceremony

At ‘The Korean Tea Ceremony-A Natural Apporach’, the tea-master Hyoam, Hong Kyeong-Hee, will perform the Korean “Zen-Tea” ceremony and Brother Anthony (resident of Korea since 1980) will give an illustrated talk on the history and present practice of the Way of Tea in Korea before brewing and serving Korean tea to those present.

When Korea regained its independence from Japan in 1945, a Buddhist monk who had been a leading member of the anti-Japanese Independence Movement, the Ven. Hyodang (1904–1979), encouraged people around him to develop a Way of Tea that would be truly Korean, and well adapted to today’s world, while retaining deep roots in ancient traditions. The Ven. Hyodang often quoted an ancient Chinese tea master who once said “Drinking tea alone is god-like, divine.” He realized that although it was good to serve tea to his many visitors, there was a special depth and intensity to preparing and drinking tea alone, in solitude. So he taught that the careful, slow yet simple gestures involved in brewing and drinking tea could be experienced by anyone as a form of “Zen” (a word which in Korean is pronounced “Seon”) leading to enlightenment. In recent times, Korean tea masters have developed a variety of “tea ceremonies” for performance at international events. The Seon-Cha tea ceremony is remarkable for its sobriety and intensity of focus.

Tea Master Hyoam, Hong Kyeong-Hee, lives in his own tea-garden at the foot of Jiri Mountain, in the far south of Korea. He is a recognized practitioner of the Hyodang Seon-Cha tradition. Like Hyodang, he picks and dries his own tea with great care, so that each cup brims with natural fragrance. Korean tea today is mostly of two kinds, either “green” tea, quickly dried after picking, or “yellow” (fermented) tea, where the drying process is delayed to allow the oils in the leaves to oxidize. The sweet taste of the yellow kind has recently made it very popular, although well-made green tea is incomparable in its subtlety.

Brother Anthony and Hong Kyeong-Hee have published two books in English, “The Korean Way of Tea,” about the history and practice of tea in Korea, and “Korean Tea Classics,” translations of three Korean texts about tea inherited from centuries past and still studied by Koreans who wish to deepen their understanding of tea.

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