Our Tea Journal

 

Here you will find a compilation of all the stories we have to share about our experiences with herbs, teas, the Japanese Tea Ceremony and so much more. 

Please feel free to peruse them all and don't forget to like and leave a comment. 😊



One of my main missions while back in Japan has been to learn as much as I can about the history and development of traditions and overall culture of tea. So far, I've visited an organic tea farm, started tea ceremony practice lessons and also found a huge tea tree all within driving distance from where I currently live.

Additionally, I had been told about a nearby island which has a very unique and rich connection to the history of how tea came to Japan. Naturally, I had to go and see it for myself.


As the story goes,

A Zen Buddhist monk named Minnan Eisai (1141–1215), founder of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism, returned from his studies in China in 1191 (at age 51) and landed at Kibiki in Ashi-no-ura in Hirado. He brought back with him tea seeds which he initially planted on the island of Hirado, Nagasaki, Japan, and then in the mountains of Kyushu (Saga Prefecture) before moving on to Kyoto.


While in Hirado, Eisai was given a hermitage named Fushun-an to perform his zen meditation. This was the first Zen temple in Japan. It was there that he also planted the first seeds of the tea plant and introduced the process of preparing matcha, which was used in China to enhance concentration (as well as keep the monks alert and awake) during meditation.

The original Fushun-an was later renamed Senkô-ji temple in 1695 and was transferred in 1702 to the location in Kibiki where it is now situated.


Additionally, at the presumed location of the old Fushun-an, a large stone can be seen, that according to local tradition was used by Eisai himself for zazen-meditation.



Eisai succeeded in initiating the custom of tea cultivation and was also partly responsible for spreading the custom of tea drinking which has grown to become the Art of Tea today. For this reason (amongst many others) I knew I had to visit this space and witness this epic piece of Tea History myself. I am inspired by the works of Eisai and hope to do something similar one day.




Giving thanks for new discoveries,

Nadya Dee,

The Tea Lady


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One beautiful Sunday morning at the beginning of Spring I had the honour and pleasure of accompanying my Tea Ceremony teacher to an amazing traditional grass-hut tea house on a nearby island called Hirado to experience the Way of Tea in a historical and authentic atmosphere.



Kanuntei Teahouse was built in 1893 by order of the 37th head of the Matsura family, Matsura Akira (Shingetsu). It is a pure and simple sōan (grass hermitage) style tearoom based on the original ideas of tea master Sen no Rikyu. It is presently housed within the gardens of the Matsura Historical Museum and was a pleasant surprise to me the first time I stumbled upon it while on a visit during the previous Summer.



This particular Tea House specializes in the Samurai style of Tea Ceremony which I have been practicing for the past 2 years. It is extremely rustic and incorporates unpretentious building techniques of a rural farm house, made almost entirely of natural materials. The original building collapsed during a typhoon in 1987 but was carefully reconstructed in its original form.


At the Kanuntei teahouse you can enjoy a bowl of matcha tea prepared according to the Chinshin style of tea which my Tea Ceremony teacher also serves at this very Tea House atleast once a month.


Tea is served with a traditional sweets made in Hirado which changes every month.




FUN FACT: the Chinshin Style of Tea (which I practice) was founded by the 29th head of the family, Matsura Shigenobu who wrote in ‘The Origin of the Tea Ceremony’ that:


`samurai should be accomplished in both the literary and military arts and the way of the tea is a refined way to train in both. One should not aim for softness but for strength and beauty`.


While at the Tea House I took the opportunity to experience as much as I could, including entering through the nijiriguchi (narrow entrance) as well as simulating the procedure for a formal tea ceremony presentation all while asking my teacher for explanations and assistance when needed.


Unfortunately, I wasn't able to observe a full tea ceremony preparation on the day but the tea host for the day was kind enough to show us around the tea house including the ingenuity of the sliding doors which are used to lock up/ secure the tea house at the end of each day.


The grounds, atmosphere and overall simplicity of the Kanuntei Tea House are all exactly what I envision in my mind whenever I think about a traditional tea House and I will hold this image in my mind as I endeavour to recreate the tea ceremony experience in Jamaica.


Nadya Dee,

The Tea (House) Lady

Iyashi Herbs

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My first experience with formal herbal medicine was while living in Japan.

Of course, we all have our own personal herbal home remedies handed down throughout generations which are now classified as "alternative"; as if subordinate to conventional Western medicine.

Nevertheless, whenever we are inflicted with common illnesses such as a stomachache or the common cold it is still our home herbal remedies that we go to first for relief. Conventional medicine is only considered if the situation seems excessive, severe, dire or chronic.

Personally, I only find myself seeking out conventional solutions to my illness issues when my immune system becomes compromised -- which generally occurs during the change of seasons and its accompanying temperature fluctuations.

Being tropical means that I have spent a large percentage of my life at a somewhat steady temperature, only experiencing cold (actually chilliness) when at high altitudes or during extreme weather patterns. So it is no surprise that I have yet to acclimatise to the idea of seasons changing, as beautiful and significant as experiencing these transitions may be and I probably never will.



That is why, over the past month, in spite of a steady supply of Vitamin C and Elderberry I found myself once again afflicted with the dreaded incurable common cold.


This is where Kampo comes in.


What exactly is Kampo?

Kampo, also known as Traditional Japanese Herbal Medicine, is a standardised multi- herb therapeutic tradition developed uniquely in Japan over 1400 years; Its roots are in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This particular medical system is organised based on the reactions of the human body to therapeutic interventions.

The fundamental knowledge of herbal medicines came to Japan via buddhist monks who travelled to China in the sixth and seventh centuries. Interestingly, similar pilgrimages to China by buddhist monks form the genesis of the Japanese tradition of tea consumption and tea ceremony as well.

Traditional Chinese Medicine even lists the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis) as one of the top 50 fundamental herbs along with cannabis sativa.

The tradition of herbs and tea are one and the same.

What drew me to Traditional Japanese Herbal Medicine was the fact that Kampo Therapies are personalised for the individual and they focus on restoring balance to the entire organism.

In Japanese thought and language, the mind and body are considered to be inseparable and interrelated. This means that in order to restore balance and harmony both mind and body require attention.

What I also find fascinating about Kampo is that it presently enjoys wide support by the public who see it as a reliable therapy for its scientific evidence and flexible therapeutic approaches.

The legitimacy of Kampo medicine is further evidenced by its inclusion in educational programs for medical students and its practice by medical doctors who have profound and scientifically based understanding of both conventional and Kampo medicine, which brings great benefits to patients.


My experience with kampo so far has been limited to treatment for a stomach bug almost a decade ago and the average cold once or twice a year. Nevertheless, I am encouraged by how acceptable herbal medicine is over here and I look forward to unearthing and sharing more about Japanese Herbal remedies and traditions.

Herbal Blessings,

Nadya Dee

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Iyashi

pronounced 

“ee-yah-shee”

 

means:

v. to heal, treat, remove pain, or quench one's thirst.

&

n. a place of warm solace and restoration, where one comes to find peace, balance and harmony.