“Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order…a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.” — Kakuzō Okakura
It seems to me that there is no day so dismal, nor any day so happy, that it cannot be improved by taking time for a cup of tea.
One of the most enchanting days I’ve experienced in a long time was the Saturday I spent walking and riding through several villages in the Cotswolds, not far from Oxford. After getting off the train at Moreton-in-Marsh, I met a delightful new friend, Teresa Fong, who introduced herself to me and asked whether we might spend the day together. She was a young mother from Hong Kong who was traveling alone for the day, as I was. The friends she was visiting in London had to work for the day, so she ventured out with the same idea I had, to see the legendary beauty of the English countryside.
We had a marvelous time– it would have been nearly impossible not to, with the lovely weather and the charming villages– and I soon discovered that I had found someone whose enthusiasm for photography surpassed my own; that may have been a first for me. For every photo I took, she took at least two or three, using both a regular camera and the one on her cell phone. I never needed to apologize for stopping to take a photo, nor felt too rushed to take a shot from more than one vantage point. It was great fun.
After several hours of strolling and snapping away, we had lunch at the Small Talk Tea Rooms in Bourton-on-Water. It was so pretty inside that we both took several photos from almost every possible angle, and I still somehow managed to consume quite a bit of tea along with our lunches. If there’s anything more fun than taking photos, it has to be drinking tea.
When I read Okakura’s quote, I thought of that magical day in the Cotswolds. The qualities Okakura mentions here in reference to tea– beauty, purity, harmony, romanticism– all are perfect descriptions of the picturesque villages we visited, and of our leisurely enjoyment of tea at lunch. In the midst of what had long felt (and still sometimes feels) like an impossible life, here was a dream-like experience that turned out to be not only possible, but real.