Tea performing arts, tea terminology and translation, promote tea studies and innovations. *Contact ,icetea8@gmail.com, Trad. and Simp. Chinese used. Blog since 6/23/2005
Name: Steven R. Jones; Link: http://teaarts.blogspot.com/
名字:瓊斯史迪芬Steven R. Jones, 網址: http://teaarts.blogspot.com/


Tea Appreciation Day 『世界奉茶日』

Tea Appreciation Day
Written by Steven R. Jones
Spring of 2005, Taipei Taiwan

Spirit of offering to extend Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony originally came from a celebration on Mother's Day called “Family Tea Ceremony” (officially held around 500 people and their Family Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony which began May 12, 1991 at Taipei Music Hall Square, has had 14 years of history), and now has expanded for all people, It is held one day during the first weekend of May (or close to it) every year from 2005. People and organizations can gather together to make and serve tea with the attending individuals and passing strangers alike. This activity is healthy, and now in 2005 the universal activity peacefully chooses the name "Tea Appreciation Day". Any person of: an organization, a group, an association, a family, a community, a school, can organize, and unite on this day with individual, at some pre-planned place like perhaps in a public square, and conduct any kind of tea party for the invited people, and even the strangers which might pass by. The activity could even include, lectures or the conversation, and its content should include tea culture related curriculum. Activity leaders must follow local laws and regulations. There is no need to register with any organization (including The International Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony Association), Any written material or announcements including a bulletin board, is just for conveying and promoting the association for people to enter or be informed. In order to promote The International Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony Association, the Association will print a poster every year to make public. If any organization or individual would like a poster they must make a request from The International Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony Association.

1. 主旨:奉一杯茶給親人、朋友及陌生的人,增進社會祥和之氣。這是茶文化很重要的一項內涵與作為,我們以每年一個全民「奉茶日」來發揚光大之。
2. 時間:每年五月的第一個週末,從週末前後延伸的一個星期。
3. 方式:有志於此項活動的單位或個人,以自己認為最適當的方式,舉辦一次茶會,奉茶給參觀的人、應邀與會的人、或是您的鄰居、親友。
4. 話題:活動期間談論的主題僅限與茶直接有關的事物。如對茶的認識、泡法、茶器、茶史、茶藝、茶道理念、茶與健康等。
5. 聯絡方法:所有舉辦奉茶日活動的單位或個人即是此項活動的聯絡、諮詢對象,有志於此項活動,並擬公開舉辦者,得透過任何方式將奉茶時間、地點、方式公告之。
6. 擬舉辦之單位或個人:(大家相約舉辦,登記僅為顯示推廣狀況,非屬必要。)
Poster reads:
All over the world every year, the first weekend or close to it in May places are chosen to celebrate Tea Appreciation Day. People gather together to make and serve tea with close relatives, friends, and strangers alike.

Please contact:
International Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony Association
3F, #64, Heng-Yang Rd.,
Taipei, Taiwan, 10003
Tel: +886-2-2331-6636
FAX: +886-2-2331-0660
E-mail: luyutea@ms59.hinet.net
(spring 2005, revised May 2009 added Chinese)


Wu-Wo , 無我的意義

30屆泡茶師從台北誕生 "30th Class of Tea Masters at Taipei"


An American Perspective of Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony 一個西方人對無我茶會的觀點




An American Perspective of

Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony

題目﹕( 一個西方人對無我茶會的觀點 )

…“Tea is a bridge for people to communicate”…


Steven R. Jones,

( 瓊斯史迪芬 )

Taipei, Jan. 20, 2006

1.My first time at a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony.

綱要 ( 我與無我茶會的接觸之始 )

I remember the first time I was invited to a “Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony”. I did not know what to expect; the only thing I was sure of was they would have tea. I thought to myself what an inconvenience it must be to go out, brew tea, and do it without breaking and spilling everything. And what about getting dirty or should I say how ‘not’ to get dirty? Well the time came and I went to the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony. I arrived early so I did not see what was going to happen yet; and I did not have a visual concept of the tea brewers’ seating arrangement. Then I began to see people coming, saying hello, and discussing things. I noticed that the people were carrying a bag or a backpack. They would go to the information booth to sign in, take a seat number card from the drawing bag, and then they would look for their seat spaces. Some would have a little trouble finding their spaces; but someone was always there to help. As things started to unfold, and I mean literally; because each tea brewer would unpack and setup their tea ware on a mat on the ground. All the different tea sets looked beautiful, spread out on the green field. I told some people I wished I had brought my camera. I was with a young woman and she said something in Chinese to a man and then told me she would get some pictures for me later; I was very happy with all the teamwork and friendliness. This kind of event with all the tea brewers on the ground sitting next to each other seemed to me like having a picnic; but in this gathering, it was very orderly and rehearsed. I was told this was the first time they had been to this particular park. I asked how do they know what to do and what to bring and when to begin, the man I was talking to told me to slow down and just enjoy myself and maybe next time I could also participate in a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony. Then I would understand the answers to my own questions. I told him it looks hard. He stared at me for a moment as if he had remembered that it was difficult for him the first time too. Then he laughed and said, “You will learn, just keep coming to the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremonies.”, and he laughed warmly again. This made me feel very comfortable. He walked with me and explained about the different tea sets and brewing styles. I was amazed; I had never seen so many beautiful teapots in my life. Later he said we had better go and sit down now the brewing is about to begin. We went outside the brewing area, and sat down with our other friends. Everyone stopped talking and it was very quiet.

Then the brewing began, I could hear water being poured, see steam, and smell tea. After some brewing and serving, a tea brewer came up to me with a small tray and some cups of tea and I took one, we bowed, and I said thanks and the tea brewer just smiled. I remember it was a little cold that day so the teacup felt nice and warm in my hands. Then came the taste, I drank a few sips and fell in love with tea.

2. The Tea and my five senses:

( 感官的領域 )

The Tea completely activated all of my five senses:

1. The sound of the tea, being poured, like a bubbling mountain spring.

2. The aroma of the tea, changes when hot, cold, or if the cup is empty with only traces of tea, all have different fragrances. A small cup with an irresistible aroma …, like a high quality aloes-wood heating in an incense burner giving off its different scents as it changes temperature and heats.

3. The sight of the tea, teas have different colors, like a rainbow after a summer rain.

4. The touch of the tea, the cup so warm in my hands and warm feeling of the tea in my throat and body just made me glow with content.

5. The taste of the tea, I remember that the most, just wonderful!

Usually when I drink something, it is because I am thirsty. However, this time was very different; this was not to quench my thirst, but to “Experience the Tea” and all its nuances with all my five senses and my mind. I do not know why I became so attract to this tea event. Maybe it was the people, the tea, the ceremony, or all of these things. I thought it would be such a great thing to do, if I could learn and participate in a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony. This would really make me feel proud to understand a part of Tea Culture and Taiwanese Culture. I was new in Taiwan and did not know much of the Chinese language. However, during a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony, I would not have to say much anyway. Therefore, if I learned about the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony, I could participate, brew, serve tea, and just smile and bow. Tea and Taiwanese Culture is one reason why I have stayed in Taiwan so long. Tea is a fascinating and satisfying subject; and tea is a great conversational topic. I often refer to tea as a bridge between people that they use to socialize. I used to be very fat, I changed my lifestyle; and studied and practiced tea, and at the same time, I lost weight too. Tea keeps me busy and it is not fattening either.

3. The procedures of Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony

( 無我茶會的論述 )

The Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony event is not rushed and there is time left for retrospective thinking about how we brewed and how we can possibly improve next time. There is also time for enjoying the moment, mental drifting, pondering, and meditating. A drawing is held at the beginning of the ceremony and the participants’ seat or space numbers are randomly chosen. The seating arrangement is in a prearranged circle or closed formation shape. This gives the arrangement a continuity and equality without a leader or any ranking status to the seating. Having this kind of seating arrangement is like a closed chain where each participant is a vital link in this circuit that is connected and energized by the tea brewing. By sitting next to one another and being in a closed formation facing towards the center, one can gaze across the field or area and see the fellow brewers with all the same purpose: brew, serve, drink, and enjoy tea.

Each Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony event will serve tea in one direction and by doing this; the serving is cyclic without any resistance to the flow of the ceremony. In this way, the motion will be in the same direction. For example, let us say the tea serving will be to the left. Each participant will make tea and serve it to the fellow brewers on the left. In addition, each participant will receive from the right, and will keep a cup of his or her own tea. The process of giving or receiving in one direction, bonds the tea brewers and ceremony together. Brewing and reserving a cup for yourself is a way of knowing how well you have brewed for the people you are serving. And being served is a way of enjoying the tea from the group. A personal satisfaction comes with brewing and drinking your own tea. And by having, other teas brewed and served to you only add variety to the enjoyment of the moment and the refreshing taste of the tea.

There are many ways to brew tea and during a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony, each tea brewer decides how he or she will make the tea. One example is the traditional Chinese way called, Gong Fu or Skilled Method; a small ceramic teapot and tea pitcher are used. Another way is the Japanese style of using a small bowl with a bamboo whisk to froth up some powdered green tea. Or the covered bowl brewing method, which is simply tea in a bowl topped with a lid. It is all up to the individual brewers on what they want to bring.

There is an awe of silence that covers the area when the tea brewers sit down and the ceremony begins. The tea for the ceremony is brewed for about the same time, one or two minutes; this is because the tea brewing vessels are of similar size, therefore the tea brewers are in a sort of rhythm. To see the tea brewers pouring the tea at about the same time, from the teapots into the tea pitchers is like watching a river flow down stream but in this case there is no downstream and no upstream, just a continuous circle of flow. The tea is the blood and the physical element constant of the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony.

4. The Spirit of Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony and the meaning of Wu-Wo.

( 無我茶會的精神?與無我的意義 )

This time let us reach for the spirit of the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony and look at the meaning of the words again. Let us first break down the two words “Wu-Wo”, and taking the English interpretation “unselfish”. In this definition, we are giving and humble not bound to physical attachments. In addition, we become a linked part of the ceremony. Now let us just look at the first word Wu, for the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony we take this word to mean “none or empty”. The limits for where this concept reside are larger and farther as than the mind can determine, therefore it is without boundaries. Emptiness and boundless to include all of “the none”, this is so vast that it encompasses an infinite space, which can be called “all or everything”. Now for the easier word Wo, in our case this represents the individual and is just one of many. When ‘one’ learns and follows the principles and participates, “one” becomes part of the Wu-Wo tea Ceremony, ‘one’ empties and becomes none and part of the whole. This is the true Spirit of the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony.

After the last brew, the participants sit and drink tea while contemplating and enjoying the full experience of the Tea. They will sit silently and humbly; and become “one” with the Tea Ceremony. When observing a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony it is easy to see a harmony that almost seems structured but actually, it is the united freedom of the group as being “Whole”. Think of a flock of birds flying across the sky appearing as identical birds in synchronous wing beating flight. However, the birds are of different size, gender, age, and their wings are beating at different rates. However, their direction, speed, and purpose are the same and they cross the sky so elegantly that they are ONE. These elements create the Spirit of the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony, and it is in the social, individual, and ideal differences, that are bound in unity by the Spirit Tea.

5. Cooperation ,like a flock of birds.

( 團體是整體之美、類似成群的鳥兒 )、

As a river constantly flows right and left and spirals in circles, but its resulting force is in one direction. The river might slow down, speed up, or even stop; but only for a fixed amount of time before it will be flowing again in the same direction. And like a flock of birds, each being individual but crossing the sky in tempo with the same migration purpose out of instinct. Disappearing in the sky, but not forever, for the flock will return only to leave once again. And as the sun and moon rise and set at opposite times and one being cold and at night and the other being hot and in the day; but both in perpetual orbit forever, never too close and never too far. This is the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony from beginning to end and as all the participants say good-bye and talk about when’s the last time they have seen each other or ask what kind of tea others brewed. This ending is part of a cycle and not the end of the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony; because as the participants leave the area, plans are already being made for the next time to have another Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony for some occasion or just for the celebration of tea itself.

6. Wu-Wo Tea Ceremonies can be friendship events.

( 友誼的交流 )

I have now been to many Wu-Wo Tea Ceremonies; usually we are in public places and share tea with the spectators that come to see the ceremony. We also serve tea to people that just happen to be there, like passersby that are just walking around or maybe someone that has noticed us. So they come over to see what is going on. I have met many friends this way. It is very fun because the rules are simple, just make tea, and enjoy! We went to “Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall” in Taipei, for Mothers’ Day and had a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony. For the Moon Festival we went to “Chinpaosan Cemetery” in Taipei County where the legendary pop singer who hypnotized China and Asia during the 1980s Theresa Teng is buried. At this place we honored a fellow classmate, who past away, Lin Jong Feng and had a Memorial Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony. Recently, we had a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony in Mucha just outside of Taipei city. That night we attended a lecture and presentation on Modern Art, later we all sat in a circle and had an open discussion group about the art presentation and the meaning of “Wu-Wo”. We spent the night there and the next day we had a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony on the roof of the building were we stayed in, I sang a short song right before the end of the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony. This was a two-day event. We often have Wu-Wo Tea Ceremonies in Taiwan and I have met many new friends, local and foreign. Once we got together with two other Tea Associations and had a tea ceremony at Elephant Mountain in Taipei, this was very good because we interacted with members from other the tea groups and served tea to the regular mountain hikers as they reached the mountain summit. I would say the hikers were quite glad to see us as we offered cups of refreshing tea to quench their thirst. The tea groups worked together, some people retrieving fresh water, others boiling water, others brewing tea, and still others serving tea. I myself went around the mountain summit to the different brewing locations and introduced the tea being brewed and offered the passersby to have a cup of tea. I got lots of questions about how did I, as a foreigner get involved with the tea groups. People asked how they could get involved; I gave my email and telephone number out to many people that day. In this Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony there were three tea groups all brewing and participating together. This Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony turned out to be a real social event for exposing many new people to the joys of Tea.

One also can organize a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony in any Country; for example, we are now organizing a Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony for America, in Los Angeles next year, (scheduled summer 2006). And this year we had an International Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony at Wuyi Mountain in China, and in 2007 another in Korea, and in 2009 maybe in America or Beijing.

7. History of International Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony

(國際無我茶會的史跡 )

Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony is a style of tea ceremony developed and perfected in Taiwan in the 1980s by Founder Tsai, Rong Tsang. Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony originally came from a celebration on Mother’s Day called “Family Tea Ceremony” (officially, on May 12, 1991 at The Taipei Music Hall Square, it held around 500 people and their Families). Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony has had over fourteen years of history, and now has expanded for all people in all Countries.

As of 2005, the International event, “Tea Appreciation Day” was established as a day for celebrating tea all over the world, which originates from the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony. Tea Appreciation Day is held on one day during the first weekend of May or close to it. People and organizations can gather together for an International Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony to make and serve tea with the attending individuals and passing strangers alike. Activity leaders must follow local laws and regulations. There is no need to register with any organization, (including The International Wu-Wo Tea Association).

8. Conclusion

( 結論 )

Tea comes in many forms and tastes and is the second most popular beverage in the world after water. Tea drinking is often a social affair. When people of different cultures, social ranks, races, and nationalities gather together for tea, we can say that such social tea drinking helps to cultivate human relationships and promote harmony and understanding among the community. Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony is one where everyone, regardless of language, Country, or background, comes together to make, serve, and drink tea. The term, “Wu-Wo”, means selflessness by being part of the whole, and to promote cooperation and appreciation of others’ cultural and social differences. You can achieve a state of selflessness, harmony, and wholeness, with your fellow tea friends as you become immersed in the Spirit and Basic Principles of the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony.

I used to think the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony was just a tea party, but it has become much more to me as the years pass. I have come to understand that tea is much more than a drink. I have a saying “Tea is a bridge for people to communicate”. So many people have helped me to understand the Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony and Tea itself. Therefore, I would like to thank: my wife Chang, Li-hsiang, the teachers, my co-workers, my classmates, and the countless new friends I have made. So I will just say, I thank the “old and new” people of the International and Taiwan Wu-Wo Tea Association, for helping me with my tea adventure and learning of tea.




* * *


* Tea Culture: writer, translator, lecturer, and tea arts performer.

* Tea Arts, Blogger, (http://teaarts.blogspot.com/)

* Translating into English (無我茶會) "Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony" and about the many facets of Tea Culture.

* A writer for "Tea Culture Monthly"

Lu-Yu Tea Culture Institute, Progress Report


* International Wu-Wo Tea Association, Member, Photographer

* Tea Arts and Culture and Incense Lore Scholar

* American English Instructor

E-mail: icetea@email.com


* 翻譯

* 茶藝網站主人

* 茶道追求者

* 中華國際無我茶會會員

* 美國語言老師

E-mail: icetea@email.com 網址: http://teaarts.blogspot.com/


Beginning Study of Incense Lore 我開始學香道

Beginning Study of
Incense Lore, ( 香道 ),
Steven R. Jones, Jan. 16, 2006, Taipei
(revision Feb. 15, 2006)
一﹒ 我與香氣的接觸之始。
二﹒ 天主教徒,佛教徒,道教徒都使用香對神的敬意都是一樣好。
三﹒ 香的精神領域。
四﹒ 聞香的方法。
五﹒ 聞香的歷史。
六﹒ 沈香的家屬。
七﹒ 辨識沈香的優劣。
八﹒ 沈香的香氣。
九﹒ 結論。
The Chinese term ( 香道 ), means “Incense Lore” which includes The Incense: Arts, Culture, History, and Ceremonies. Incense Lore can be compared to and has some of the same qualities as music, art, or literature. As I study about Incense Lore, I also see that Incense is an intricate part of Tea Lore, just like Calligraphy, Floral Arrangement, and Scroll Arrangement. These are five Classical Chinese Arts. Incense Lore involves natural incense woods ( 香木 ), and not artificial substitutes.
When I first used incense, I was about fifteen or sixteen years old in America and we used them for making the room smell good or to set a relaxing mood. I had also heard of some people using incense for meditation or to induce a mystical setting when fortune telling. The incense I first bought was in a pretty enchanted colored box with a fairy on the front with fantasy and mystical images. I also bought a small brass incense burner, (香爐 ). The incense pieces were cones shape and black in color and even without lighting them the scent was strong and when I lit them they were strong smelling like smoky flowers and herbs. At the time I had no idea of Incense Lore, I only knew that my incense was from a far away place, like maybe India or somewhere.
Many years later I moved to Taiwan; and I seen incense again. But this time the incense was symbolic, and used for cultural or religious ceremonies and holidays like Chinese New Year or as an offering to gods and family ancestors. Later when I got married my Taiwanese mother-in-law showed me how to use incense in the home for showing respect and giving offerings for our family ancestors. Also my wife and I would go to temples on holidays and light incense; they looked like coiled springs and straight sticks. I learned how to hold them and then place them to the incense burner in front of an altar. The incense “Aloes” is mentioned in the “Holy Bible”, and it refers to an incense wood called, “Aloes-Wood”. Coming from a Catholic background, we light candles and also have incense. Thuribles are covered incense burners suspended by chain and are swung so they can spread the incense. Thuribles are still used in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Incense is used in Christian churches for it is thought to have purifying properties. The burning of incense can represent the people’s prayers rising towards Heaven. Incense is also used in Buddhist and Taoist Temples. Being in Taiwan surrounded with Buddhism and Taoism, which are philosophical ways of living as opposed to being just Religion, and myself being a liberal Catholic, I did not have much trouble adjusting to Taiwanese Philosophy, Religion, and Culture. When I would light and offer incense to the Buddhist or Taoist Temples, I would use this time to pray and wish that my family would remain healthy and safe and I would thank God and Jesus Christ for all that I had received and to try to be a better man by loving and helping my family and fellow man. I still go to Catholic Church, and I also go to the Temples and have met some volunteer groups there and have helped them many times in giving care to the less fortunate. I have gotten much satisfaction my helping the needy.
A few years later I was introduced to Incense again at “Lu-Yu Tea Culture Institute” ( 陸羽茶藝中心 ), in Taipei, which held classes and sold tea. I went there often to buy tea and tea ware and one day I noticed they also had a back room where they sold incenses and Incense Ware, ( 香具 ). They had different incense burners made of ceramic, some were very simple, and some were large and beautiful, yet they were much smaller than the ones I had seen in the temples. And they had such a variety of incenses. The incense was in small tin boxes and when the saleslady opened the box, I was surprised because it was a powder, and not a cone, stick, or coil. Later I found out that they did have incense sticks and incense coils too, which were small and delicate. They all had very subtle scents and I bought some and a ceramic incense burner and some incense ware. The incense burner was made out of the same material as my stoneware teapots. My wife would light some incense using either the stick or coil type. Later I started to use the powder incense; which I would first place a bed of very clean white ash in an incense burner. Then I would use a brass “Incense Seal” ( 香印 ), each Incense Seal has a different pattern in the outline shape of a Chinese word, picture, or other design. Next, I would carefully place the incense seal on top of the ash, and lightly pack the incense into the incense seal with a small bamboo spoon and brush. The incense seals are used with powder incenses to create Incense Trails. And lastly, I would carefully lift the incense seal and then light one end of the incense trail and let it burn slowly like a wondering dragon. In the past, these incense trails have been used to keep track of time.
As time past, my wife had been studying Tea Lore, and I would ask her about her classes and listen with much interest. I also started to take some classes about tea and incense. As I became more interested in incense and I started to read about incense and I was surprised to find out when my Incense Lore Master Instructor said that incense did not originate in Japan. Even though it is very popular in Japan, Incense Lore has its roots in China. The first recorded use of incense in China was dated during the Chou Dynasty (1122-249 B.C.).
In the Family: N. O. Thymeliaceae, Genus: Aquilaria, there are several species in the incense wood creating trees of the evergreen genus Aquilaria and is native to many countries. It is rare but these trees can begin to produce an aromatic resin. The resin is produced as an immune response and can form from an injury, cut, or a parasitic fungus or mold infection, on any woody area of a living tree, including the roots. The result of this process is an aromatic resin-impregnated wood called “Aloes-Wood”. Aloes-Wood is a kind of Incense Wood. There are many Aquilaria trees but it is extremely rare for them to have incense; because they can’t produce rich and dark incense resin. Since ancient times this is the preferred oleoresin used in making fine incense, mixed incense, and incense oils.
Some of the Species of, Family N.O. Thymeliaceae, Genus Aquilaria, that produce Aloes-Wood and their most common Countries of origin:
Aquilaria Agallocha: India, Burma, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Aquilaria Aphispermum: Hainan Island, China.
Aquilaria Baillonii: Cambodia.
Aquilaria Bancana: Malaysia.
Aquilaria Crassna: Cambodia, and Vietnam. A local name for this Aloes-Wood is, “Eagle Wood”.
Aquilaria Grandiflorn: Southern China.
Aquilaria Yunnanensis S.C. Huang: Yunnan, China.
Aquilaria Khasiana: India.
Aquilaria Malaccensis: Malaysia, Indonesia, Kalimantan, and Singapore.
Aquilaria Microcarpa: Borneo
Aquilaria Moszkowskii: Indonesia
Aquilaria Pentandura: Philippines
Aquilaria Secundaria: Moluccas Islands
There are many historical facts about Aloes-Wood being buried under the ground for up to 2000 years. This evidence is written in a classic Chinese book on incense; but today most Aloes-Wood comes from infected trees that, although are in the process of decaying or even dying, are indeed still standing. Sometimes the roots become infected and produce incense oleoresin and these can be found underground. Aloes-Wood naturally has an oleoresin content, when high quality Aloes-Wood is impregnated with enough oleoresin to cause it to sink in water the Chinese term for this Aloes-Wood is ( 沉水香 ); which literally translates as “water sinking incense”, usually this is a high quality incense. In the past if an Aloes-Wood sank it was considered higher quality than if it did not sink. But the ultimate test for the degree of quality is to sniff and experience its Scents. Grading of Aloes-Wood is based on various characteristics including: oleoresin content, color, shape, and weight of the wood pieces. Aloes-Wood is a naturally scented resinous wood and is very rare and can take centuries to acquire its unique scents. Practitioners of an Incense Ceremony will gather in a room, and the incense is shared and passed around and is the center topic of the ceremony. The incense becomes a bridge for people to communicate and interact with each other. In the Incense Ceremony, pure Incense Charcoal is used without any impurities. Incense charcoal lights easily and burns cleanly and is odorless. It is used for heating the incense without burning the incense or adding any odors. A small incense burner called a “censer” ( 香爐 ), is used for sniffing the incense. The charcoal is placed on a bed of clean ash in the censer and covered with some ash by gently lifting the ash surrounding the charcoal and piling it in a mound, and then a small hole is made on the top of the mound to allow heat to escape and a thin stoneware chip with the incense placed on top. Other materials can be used for the incense-heating chip like ceramic, mica, or silver. In an Incense Ceremony participants don't just sniff the incense, but rather think and experience incense. The practitioners strive to open their hearts and minds and try to understand the true spirit of incense.
In Chinese ( 聞 香 ), “sniff incense” is an important part of the ceremonial appreciation of incense. There are many words to describe the complex scents given off by Aloes-Wood. Scents like caramel, milky, fresh, different kinds of flowers, different kinds of fruits, and etc. Sometimes the Scents of the Incense can remind one, of a past experience or memory. Listed below are just a few but standard words used for describing Aloes-Wood.
Five terms used to classify aloes-wood rich Scents:
Sweet--- like the scent of honey or sugar
Sour--- like the scent of plums or other acidic foods.
Hot (Spicy)--- like the scent of peppers.
Salty--- like the scent of ocean water with dried seaweed.
Bitter--- like the scent of bitter herbal medicine when boiled.
To be able to define a given scent into these different elements takes years of experience and also one must develop a refined sense of smell.

Looking back on my life with incense and remembering at first burning the cone-shape incense as an adolescent. And then later in Taiwan at home or in the temples using stick or coil incenses, not for the scents but for symbolic offerings and prayers. And then going to a Tea and Incense Shop and buying some mixed incense, “small stick and small coil”, with subtle scents and nuances. And then started to use power incense and make incense trails. And now I am studying Incense Lore from an Incense Lore Master Instructor, “Lin, Rai-Hsian” ( 林瑞萱 ), after beginning the class I have really started to appreciate incense. But it was not until I experienced an actual Incense Ceremony with our instructor, that I started to understand “The Spirit of Incense”. We use various kinds of Aloes-Wood, and the scents are wonderful and natural and very hard to describe, without actually having the chance to personally experience the incense. After lecture we will go to the Incense Room to have an Incense Ceremony. We will sit around a table and all the students and our Incense Master Instructor will first take out some small little boxes and bottles with different Aloes-Woods and she will explain what kinds of incenses we will use today. Then carefully one of the students or the instructor will prepare the censer and we will sniff and experience the incense and discuss and describe the scents and differences of each one. We usually will pass the censer around twice and the scents from the first pass and the second pass will usually be different. We learn and share our descriptions of the incense’s scents; sometimes it will bring us back in time to another place where we have experienced this scent before. Some times the Instructor will have us discuss among ourselves and we will laugh at each other as we try to describe in our own words what the incense smells like, our Instructor will remind us we are still learning and try to sniff and think deeply as we experience the incense. I am very grateful to my Incense Lore Master; it is not easy but I am very happy to take this time and learn about Incense Lore.
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* Tea Culture: writer, translator, lecturer, and tea arts performer.
* Tea Arts, Blogger, (http://teaarts.blogspot.com/)
* Translating into English (無我茶會) "Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony" and about the many facets of Tea Culture.
* A writer for "Tea Culture Monthly"
Lu-Yu Tea Culture Institute, Progress Report
* International Wu-Wo Tea Association, Member, Photographer
* Tea Arts and Culture and Incense Lore Scholar
* American English Instructor
E-mail: icetea@email.com

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* 茶藝網站主人
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E-mail: icetea@email.com 網址: http://teaarts.blogspot.com/

Perennial Tea Ceremony 四序茶會