That is wonderful
I think cherry blossoms are such a beautiful sight, they can feel very magical. Japan does indeed have a great culture and as a whole they are sensitive to and celebrate the seasonal changes a lot I think
Now that I am back from my rehearsal, I'm going to talk about brewing tools. Mostly about teapots, but other things as well.
These are the tools you will use in tea preparation. I recommend having special tea tools that you use specifically for magic and tea crafting. It's not completely necessary, but I would treat them how you treat any other magical tool.
Anyway, here are the things you will need to brew tea:
- This is for heating water. A lot of people don't realize, but there is a difference between a tea kettle and a tea pot. A tea kettle is a vessel that gets hot and heats water. A tea pot is a vessel that is for brewing tea. Often, tea pots cannot withstand the heat of a fire or stove. Kettles are made to get very hot, but pots are not. Tea is not meant to be brewed in boiling water or hotter. I feel like the best tea kettles for magic are ones with loud whistles
There are a variety of ketles, though, some don't have whistles, and you can even get electric kettles and water heaters that can do this job, too. I have a water heater that keeps about 4 liters of water hot all day, right at the temperature perfect for making oolong tea. Because I drink tea all day long
But it's not the kettle I use during tea magic.
Choose a kettle that speaks to you. The kettle will represent the fire element in your ritual, so choose one that is firey if that suits you. You can also choose to make all your magic tea tools match each other. For practical reasons, choose a kettle that has a guard on the handle so it does not get hot, and one that allows you to lift the cover on the spout without touching the metal. This prevents burns. Also one where the guard on the handle is near the back is good so steam does not rise up and burn your fingers.
- Like explained, a tea pot is different from a tea kettle. There are many types of pots, and I will go into which you can use later. You can also use your cauldron or even just make single servings of tea in your tea cup (you will need to use satchets or baskets for this). I think it's important to have many of these, as they can serve different purposes. The material they are made out of is very important. Tea pots are often made of clays, sometimes ores and metals. They also are a symbol of stability. Thus the tea pot is going to be your representation of the earth element in your ritual.
Tea Service (optiona)
- If you are serving tea to a group to perform groupwork magic, you may want a service. In a lot of western culture, tea is not served from the tea pot, but from a serving pot. You do not brew tea and serve it from the same vessel. In many eastern cultures, however, you can use the same pot. I use the same pot, unless I am brewing from yixing (which I would not normally use for groups/serving anyway). I don't use or own a tea service, but many people like having this. A service usually includes 4 to 6 cups (eastern tradition usually is 5, western tradition is often even numbers 4 or greater), saucers for all of the cups, a serving pot, a tray (sometimes two trays -- one to carry between rooms/tables and one to place on the table), and possibly even a serving pot of milk or cream and a serving bowl with sugars. I don't use any of these things. When I serve tea, I do so informally. I do have a small service set with two cups for serving a single guest, but I have yet to use it.
- Tea cups are also a very important part of your tea tools! Tea is not made to be had in large cups, but rather kept hot in a tea pot or serving pot and constantly refilled as needed. Of course, you can use what feels right to you anyway. In eastern tradition, tea cups have no handles and are made to be lifted with both hands. It is said that if a tea cup is too hot to handle, it is not ready to drink. In western tradition, tea cups have handles and are placed on saucers. The focus is on service and style. I strongly prefer the eastern tradition, but a lot of Wicca is western-influenced, so choose what seems right to you. You can even use your favorite coffee mug. Think about the material it is made out of. Try not to use plastics or the like. Ceramic cups are very common and traditional. Glass makes an interesting choice and allows you to see the color of the tea. Metal cups exist, including cast iron cups. These can help keep tea hot but in my experience it just makes it take longer before you can drink it. Use this if you really like metals or would like to spend a lot of time meditating. Tea is ok to drink even as it cools. You do not have to drink it all up while it is piping hot. Though it's good to start while it's still hot. Anyway, think of the tea cup like your chalice of tea tools. It represents the water element. I actually use a specially decorated glass tea cup as my chalice in my regular altar. This is not the same one I use for tea magic, of course... though the one I use for tea magic is a matching cup in a different color
My tea cup is blue. Pick one that speaks to you.
- A tea spoon is like it sounds... a spoon that scoops tea. And surprise, the amount of tea a tea spoon scoops is equal to 1tsp! This is actually where the name 'teaspoon' comes from. As you can see, tea is influential in culture and even defines words and measurements
(Though a similar measurement existed before we called it teaspoon). Anyway, the tea spoon is used only for scooping the dry tea leaves and other herbs and putting them into your basket/pot/satchet/etc. It is not for stirring or getting wet. I recommend using one made of bamboo, as it is a natural disinfectant, and you will have no need to wash it (as tea will leave no mess on it anyway). The spoon or scoop represents the element of air in your tea magic. You can also use it in the same way you would use a wand.
- You can use tongs or chopsticks to pick up a hot basket or satchet from the water without rising burning yourself. Some people attach strings to satchets and simply use their fingernails to pick up baskets. Some baskets have handles you can just pick up. I have a small bamboo tongs, but I don't consider it a magical tool.
Another important item can be a whisk. When stirring ingredients into a tea after brewing it (such as honey, matcha, milk, etc.) you can use a whisk, also made of bamboo. There are whisks made just for this purpose, often associated with Japanese tea ceremony. For thicker things like honey you might want a thicker whisk or metal one. It is better to use a whisk than a spoon. A whisk will help everything mundane and magical mix more evently rather than just sloshed around. Whisk deosil, not widdershins!
And if you are storing your teas in flasks/bottles/whatever, you will of course need those, too. The kinds with corks are good. Teas are sensitive potions and should be consumed within 3-5 days at the most after brewing, to preserve both taste and the energies within.
Other tools can be used. If you are using matcha, you will need a chashaku. I am not going to go into any other tools now. If you find you need one after you start performing tea magic, go ahead and add it. Think about what it represents to your overall set when choosing a tool.
TYPES OF TEA POTS!!
This is one of the most important sections! There are many different kinds of tea pot. Metal, clay, fancy ceramics, plastic, whatever. You can buy many different ones, and even make them yourself. I do not make my own teapots. It is very difficult.
There are two types of teapots I would especially like to recommend. Not only do both of these types have a rich culture and history, but they have some special properties that make for good use in magic. Neither should be washed, other than being flushed with fresh water after use.
- Yixing pots are made from Yixing clay which is a special kind of porous clay from Yixing, China. This type of teapot has been around for over 5000 years and is an important part of Chinese tea culture. When you hear about Chinese tea culture and what may be considered old Chinese tea magic, you can bet yixing pots are used. The Chinese believe that tea originated in China (though the concept of tea appeared in all cultures well before documented history).
What is special about this kind of pot, besides its rich history which you can research on your own, is that it actually absorbs some of the tea every time you use it. When you are using magically charged tea, this of course means it's absorbing and retaining that energy, as well! This means every time you use the pot, it becomes even more powerful. The longer you keep using your pot, you will have a stronger and stronger pot and will be able to make some very potent potions.
Because it actually retains some of what was in it, there are a few things to be careful of. One, never try to wash it. Flush it out with fresh, clean water when you are done. Use hot water. Secondly, always use the same type of tea with the same type of purpose. Because it's retaining the previous energy, mixing different teas with different types of energy and charges can lead to dissonance that is unwanted, weakening your spells. It can also ruin the flavor of the pot -- as it retains some of the flavor of the tea, as well.
Because of this special quality, after years of regular use, you can actually pour hot water in your pot and it will taste like tea! You can easily use your pot to get a "quick fix" of energies this way without having to brew a potion -- the energy has been stored up for you
It's not very strong just putting water in, as it will still keep most of the energy stored, but you can get a little out of it this way.
Also, what is unique about these pots is they often have a filtered spout and are typically quite small. This is because they are not meant for serving or pouring into a tea cup. These pots actually are meant for drinking straight from the spout! This kind of tea drinking was used by Chinese monks and scholars to help them focus. You can use it to help focus your energies. Because the energy you put into the water pulls out the energy of the tea, and the tea simply floats freely in the pot as you drink, the energy is never lost and is retained in the pot. You can imagine how powerful the energies can become, especially after you have a strongly energized pot that you've been using for a long time!
Because you need to devote one pot to one kind of tea and one kind of purpose, I recommend not going to overboard with these unless you are a serious collector with a lot of money. If you want to use them for magic, only buy them for something you think you will do often. It's not worth it, IMO, to buy a yixing for a spell you may only cast once or twice in your life or a unique potion you only ever make once. But rather, let's say you like to make a protection or self-blessing potion or use tea in a protection or blessing ritual that you plan to do every full moon. Or perhaps you want to make a tea that you will empower with the energies of the Lord and Lady or your patron/matron deity/ies to help strengthen your relationship with them, and would drink this regularly in ritual. Yixing is great for this because it will get more and more powerful as you use it.
You can get these in all kinds of designs, including ones shaped like deities and other magical creatures like dragons and fairies. You can get ones with all kinds of symbolism. A lot of them derive inspiration from nature (shaped like trees, leaves, animals, etc.) I have a frog pot, plum blossom pot, etc. They are beautiful works of art. Because I think art is channeling the divine, I feel this makes them already have magical qualities even before you use them. They are always hand-made pieces, as well, made by artisans who devote their life to mastering the craft.
Because of its nature (drinking from the pot, powering up, etc.) I feel that yixing is best used for ritual tea drinking, in which you brew and drink the tea yourself as part of the ritual or spell. Which brings us to the other kind of pot...
- This is a special kind of pot with a lot of history as well. These are Japanese pots and were once a status symbol. They are made of cast iron. They are said to brew tea better because they retain heat while brewing, not lowering temperature as much while the tea is infusing into the water, giving a "fuller" brew. Because of this, they can pull more energy from the leaves with each brew as well.
While yixing gets more powerful over time with a focus, tetsubin-kyusu can get you the most out of your very first brew of a specific infusion. So you can use it for any purpose at all. Instead of a porous clay that absorbs tea, the enamel on the inside of these pots builds up a petina layer of mineral deposits from tea. It's not absorbing the tea itself, but this helps the pot become healthier and stay energized.
These pots are also made in a variety of sizes, including large ones for serving many people. They include a basket/infuser that is put into the pot to infuse the tea, and can be taken out after it has finished. Because they are metal, you can heat them with a small candle (tea lights -- guess where that name came from!) to keep the tea warm for a long period of time (hours!). This is great for performing long rituals or meditations.
These pots also have a long history of artisanship -- though not as old as Yixing. Tetsubin is taken very seriously in Japan, and people devote their life to mastering the craft. There are very few people in Japan who are considered true masters of testubin.
While the shapes of tetsubin do not vary as much as Yixing, they come in a variety of colors and have many different artworks on the outside. These are part of the molded shape. The traditional pot has small bumps that represent a samurai's armor. They are a black shape and are a symbol of strength. The eastern and western color correspondences can be a little different, so feel free to use whichever you want. Often the pots are colored to give them different energies. You will see a lot of Japanese symbolism and spirituality in these pots' designs, so study it before choosing a pot. They are also very expensive so choose carefully. However, the pots will never rust, break, or wear down with usage (as long as you're not taking a sledgehammer to it or throwing it in a volcano or leaving tea in it for days on end, it should be fine).
Tetsubin are great for any occasion, and what I would recommend as your main pot. You can use the yixings when you have a specific purpose.
- If you use a cauldron in your spellwork, this could be a tool you already have! I wouldn't buy or make a cauldron simply for tea work, though you could dedicate a kitchen pot to tea if you don't have any teapot or means of procuring one. I would recommend finding an affordable ceramic teapot before resorting to using a makeshift cauldron though.
However, if you already have a magical cauldron, then you have a powerful tool for creating teas, too! Make sure the cauldron is capable of brewing tea in (since cauldrons can be made of most anything it seems) and is washed properly before and after use for tea brewing.
To brew tea this way, you will have to use a tea basket. This is like a metal cup with holes for straining tea leaves that sits inside another vessel like a pot or cup. Don't use those little "ball" shaped ones on a stick, or spoon shaped ones or whatever. It is important for tea to have a TON of room to expand (some teas can expand up to 10 size their 'dry' size or more!) or else they will not release their oils properly and you will have very weak tea. This means the energies are being trapped inside those poor cramped leaves as well. You should always have at least way more empty space in your infuser than you do tea leaf. If the tea leaf fills more than 1/4 of your infuser basket/spoon thing/whatever, your infuser is probably too small.
You can also use a satchet you make yourself. Fill the satchet with your leaves, and again, make sure it is definitely big enough to allow for a ton of room for the leaves to expand and float. Sew it up or tie it closed (tying is a lot easier...) and then use it a lot like a teabag. You can make a string that hangs out or pick it up with chopsticks/tongs/etc. when the tea is done. Make them out of silk, cheescloth, or even coffee filters.
- Ceramic teapots work nicely as teapots and can be quite inexpensive. They make for great starter pots, and because they are earthenware, are still perfectly suited for spellwork and ritual. The only thing I would avoid are plastic pots and brewers with plastic parts. Use them as a last resort.
GENERAL TIPS AND ADVICE
Here's just some advice that was not listed earlier:
* You can rebrew your leaves many times. Try to wait at least 15 minutes between brews. Give the leaves time to cool and dry a little. Depending on the tea, you can rebrew more times. Some teas retain oils and energies better than others. Use your own discresion to decide when a tea has 'run out.' Try to feel the energies in it between brews. You can keep a tea sitting out for up to 24 hours. Once a day has passed since the last brew, toss it out.
* Tea pots, especially the yixing and tetsubin I meantioned earlier, are not made to be heated outside of the tea water going in. Do not put them over a fire or stove. You can break and ruin them. Yixing can shatter and the enamel inside tetsubin will crack and break and the pot will be ruined.
* Because of a recent surge in tea culture popularity, you can find larger yixing pots with infusion baskets. I have never used this, but it may be interesting to try using one for group work!
* Tetsubin can also refer to cast-iron pots and cauldrons that are made for heating water. This is not the same as a tetsubin-kyusu, even though both can be called simply "tetsubin." To tell the difference, make sure the pot has enamel on the inside (you can't easily see it unless you know what you're looking for, so read a description or ask someone who is selling one) then you know it is a testubin-kyusu for brewing tea. Without the enamel, tea can ruin and rust a tetsubin boiling kettle or cauldron. You also have to clean them much more thoroughly if you put anything other than water in them. So look for the enamel!!
* If you're wanting to extrapolate ALL the energies from your tea, brew it for a long time. At least 30 minutes. Your tea will taste extremely bitter and VERY strong. I recommend using this in potions that will have other ingredients, especially sweet things like honey, sugar, or juice. Sometimes this kind of 'overbrewed' green tea is drunk by connoisseurs in Japan. It is said to greatly stimulate the mind. Be careful as most people will cringe at the taste. With Yixing, you can continue to drink while adding water when all the current tea has been consumed. Or just keep adding after each sip. This way, you can continue to brew the tea without as much astringency and get all the power out of it. Otherwise, you can just make several teas/potions by using second infusions.
* Certain teas 'open up' as they brew, especially knotted and rolled/pearled teas. Sometimes, these teas release more energy on a second or third infusion than on the first! A popular example is tieguanyin tea. This tea is named after and directly associated with Guanyin, the bodhisattva of compassion and goddess of mercy. In China, this tea is said to not be at its full power when first infused, so knowledgable drinkers will actually brew it once and dump out the first brew, then start drinking from the second infusion onward. You can also infuse this several times, and the flavor will change slightly each time. In these cases, you can channel energy in different ways with each brew I believe. I have not put too much study into this as tieguanyin and similar teas are extremely expensive (though very worht it) and I have depleted my entire stock and been unable to get any more.
* Don't use flavored teas, especially those flavored with fruits, in yixing pots. Small pieces of fruit can get stuck in the pores and then mold (even if you clean it regularly), ruining the pot permanently. So flavored teas should go in your cauldron, tetsubin, or whatever.
* When brewing multiple types of tea at once, there are various methods you can use. One is to take the lowest brewing temperature and time and brew the entire mixture at those perameters. However, I feel you don't get the most energy out of your tea this way (though you may get better flavor if you're going for a specific taste, like a green tea with a hint of black or something). I recommend starting with the 'longest' brew, and then adding the other teas as they need to be. For example, if you were brewing a black tea and green tea together, and the black tea needed to be brewed for 3 minutes, but the green only 1 minute, I would brew the black for 2 minutes then plop the green leaves in for the last minute. Now everything brews to its fullest! The water should have cooled down plenty to allow the green to brew without being burned.
* Often, water will be too hot if its just been boiled. An easy rule to live by is to let your water sit off the heat for 30 seconds if you are brewing oolong or black tea, or 60 seconds if you are brewing green or white tea.
* Oolong tea seems to resonates strongly with the manipura chakra. Some people experience stomach pain, cramping, hunger pangs, etc. after drinking oolong tea, especially after not eating for a long time. This is because the digestion is speeding up. If you have these feelings, do not worry. All you need to do is eat some food. It is a good idea to not drink oolong teas if you have not eaten for several hours. I would drink them with meals or with an hour or two or eating. If you're going to perform ritual that involves drinking a lot of oolong for a long time (meditation, cleansing) I would recommend having a snack beforehand, or performing it after a meal. Of course, for a cleansing, you may want to fast beforehand... so at least keep this in mind.
For now, that is all I'm going to say about tea. This concludes tea 101! Hopefully you will feel inspired to incorporate tea into your rituals, spells, meditations, etc. If you try any tea magic, let me know how it works and if my posts helped you in any way. Also, if you have any questions or would like to discuss tea magic and crafting more, feel free to continue a discussion here as well!
Tea culture can be very influential in your life. Even outside of ritual, I think it's good to drink tea every day. It is healthy for the mind, body, and soul.