Tea Medicine Chabu
These beautiful chabu were designed by our dear tea sister Raneta Coolakova of Care for Teaware as a special limited edition for Global Tea Hut (108, of course). They are made to resemble one of the oldest tea runners in our Center. A tea runner like this can be the foundation for your tea session, allowing all your wares to shine in a unique encounter. A chabu carries the memories of past tea ceremonies, its imperfections and color changes adding value over time. We can view a runner as our canvas, where we paint our tea story and collect fond memories of past tea sessions.
The unique characters embroidered on this runner are based on a painting by a Taiwanese tea friend and teacher of ours, Huang Chuan Fang. There is a magic alchemy in tea that requires a powerful dance of Heaven, Earth and Human. The central character for tea (茶) elicits this and more. The radicals in the character for tea are “herb (艹)“ above and “wood/tree (木)” below, with the radical for human (人)” in the center. Master Huang elegantly unpacked the character in the form of a picture that captures its essence. One can almost immediately recognize the poignancy of painting tea in this way. It is the perfect representation of the human in tune with Nature. The “person,” shown as male and female both, isn’t just climbing the tree to pick leaves, he/she is living within the tree itself. Many Chinese characters have stories—pictographic lessons hidden deep in the ways they have been drawn over time. For us, this drawing of “tea” captures all the majesty of those lost ages when tea, as an aspect of Nature, Heaven and Human were in harmony. Furthermore, the symbol of a human in the tree is a very ancient and deep picture, representing the axis mundi around which the earth rotates—the center of the universe.
The character repeated on the sides is “Ti (楴),” which is an ancient character that can mean “root,” but may also be used to refer to tea, or to the wood element in general (also a sage’s hairpin). To us, this grounds the character for “tea” in the earth, the practical and the real—merging the realms of spirit and matter, imagination and reality. To us, the characters on this runner highlight the way that our set up for tea (chaxi) can be a mandala. And that means that our interpretation of these symbols is not meant to be the final say, nor the only way to see them. There is so much more to say, or perhaps nothing at all. May they inspire deep contemplations and connections with the meaning of tea, its story and your place in that story.
The embroidered characters are only featured on the front side of the chabu while the other side is plain, representing serenity and purity should you need a simpler expression. Both sides of the chabu are suitable for all brewing methods.