Recently, I was having tea with a friend of mine at a tea shop. It is always interesting to see how different people drink tea in different ways. It reminds me of what the Chinese say about tea: “To consume one cup is to taste; to consume two cups is to drink; to consume three cups is to swill like a donkey.” It's a bit harsh to compare one who drinks three cups of tea to a donkey, but one must note the difference between swilling and sipping. When someone is really thirsty, he/she will swill, or guzzle the tea as if drinking a beer. There is no notion of taste. When one drinks to taste, one sips the tea, keeping a little bit of hot liquid in the mouth, bringing it to the tip of the tongue, letting it stay there for little bit and then making sure to taste before swallowing. One can feel the tea on the tongue and think about the taste afterward.
When we practice our Tai Chi as beginners, it may be helpful to remember this concept of taste. To taste something, you need to have patience. There is no hurry to get to the next movement. Do one little movement at a time. Let the posture stay with you for little while, and “taste” each movement before moving on to the next one. When you have patience and can taste your Tai Chi, then you won’t swill your Tai Chi like a donkey.
Copyright 2010 Huan's Tai Chi