Finding Sanctuary in a Tea Cup

One of my reflections during one of my favorite activities: enjoying tea ceremonies in little tea houses found nestled into the mountainside of  Maokong, Taipei, Taiwan. 

A Teahouse in Maokong, Taiwan, Christian Ekleberry, backpacksandblackboards.com
A Teahouse in Maokong, Taiwan, Christian Ekleberry, backpacksandblackboards.com

There is a place I sit. This place exists in the busy city, but is tucked away into a sanctuary of green. Yet unlike other hideaways, this spot of quiet stands above, above the city, glaring down upon the steel and concrete. Its nature rises above the feats of man. It’s as if the world is saying “Climb as you may, but never will you conquer.” But if this is the reminder, it is not the feeling, the embrace.

Here in the fog-covered slopes, the mountains wrap around you as the dew covers the broad green leaves.

This place. This stone upon which I sit. It is not just a place where you can hear yourself think. Those places can still be found within the walls of the city. This place is where you can let yourself think, let your thoughts flow warmly over the porcelain cup like fresh brewed tea, hot from the source. Your mind the smooth, round, earthy teapot; the perfect vehicle for brewing reflection.

Tea Ceremony, Maokong, Taiwan, Christian Ekleberry, backpacksandblackboards.com
Tea Ceremony, Maokong, Taiwan, Christian Ekleberry, backpacksandblackboards.com

Upon which thoughts, ideas, and emotions spring steaming into the cup of this mountain who is waiting to receive them in anticipation. Those dried shriveled leaves of thought, wrinkled and packaged from the labors of the man-produced fruits of the city. Here, in this place, they loosen and warm, releasing their potential, wisps of steamy consciousness slip little hints of existence out into the universe.

Tea from Maokong, Taiwan, Christian Ekleberry, backpacksandblackboards.com
Tea from Maokong, Taiwan, Christian Ekleberry, backpacksandblackboards.com

 As the day fades and the water cools, the mind is left brewing its final herbal moments. The clay pot is refreshed in its use. The discarded leaves of today’s reckoning have a glistening spent look, sad to the untrained eye but glorious to those who delight in deep pondering.

Those darkened, de-tightened leaves serve as a reminder of today’s accomplishments. Not in the feats of mankind, of the hustled and bustled city dweller, but of the undoing of what man has done. Once sucked in, gathering potential, gathering gravity and stress, tense folds hiding their potentials are now relaxed and freed of their holdings.

My brother taking in the sights
My brother taking in the sights

This place of stone upon which I sit. This place of nature is naturally the place from which sips of knowledge come in the form of miniature blue-cream cups of my tea ceremony.

Me and the 20th cup later
Me and the 20th cup later
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16 thoughts on “Finding Sanctuary in a Tea Cup”

  1. Enjoyed the serene descriptions…and I love my tea shops (at least when I am in China), and this scene reminds me a lot of the hills of Hangzhou where Longjin tea is produced. Peaceful, fresh and a place to collect your thoughts and meet great people.

  2. I didn’t get to visit maokong on my visit to Taipei! Thanks for sharing this now it feels like I did visit the beautiful place.

    1. It’s wonderful! If you go back, take half a day to ride the gondola up and then rest in a tea house! Thanks for the lovely comment

  3. One of the reasons I go through blogs like yours is the way people write, the words flow out beautifully and you tend to forget what the article is all about and start to experience what the writer felt. Lots to learn, and yes, this reminds me of the time I spent in coffee and tea estates of Coorg, where they let you brew your own beverage. Sweet memories that, and serene landscapes to boot.

    1. What a delightful comment! It means so much to me. Thank you and maybe one day I’ll make it to Coorg to try the brewing for myself!

    1. Thank you, dear! I went to check yours out and it is so adorable! I’m in Taiwan too and so it’ll be fun to read some of your posts of places I still need to try out! Very cute site and I look forward to exploring your posts more!

      1. Thanks so much lovely! I’ve been wanting to go strawberry picking for the longest time and just noticed your post – which was perfect.
        Hope you’re enjoying your time in Taiwan, there’s lots to explore! I’ll definitely be keeping up with your posts 🙂

  4. Thirty years ago, I spent a couple of summer’s (between college experiences) in Japan. I participated in informal neighborhood gatherings over tea, and formal tea ceremonies. The slightest gestures symbolized the tranquility of the practice, just as their gardens create landscapes in a few square feet of folliage. Tea holds a place our daily lives now.
    Oscar

    1. I think the fact that a simple part of our every day life, such as a love for food and drink, can bring us together is beautiful!

  5. Delicious writing. Smooth and thought-provoking—beckons the reader into the jazz lounge where your mind performs artfully. Exquisite.

    Wistfully reminds me of J’s Tea Shop back in Eugene, Oregon—the owner studies tea part-time in Taiwan and devotes the remainder of his time to crafting cups of art in Oregon. The clay brewing pot fascinates me—how each brew leaves a small petal of flavor in its ever-blossoming character, over time creating a clay conjurer that brings each new cup to life. The pot imparts its rich tapestry on the cup, and the cup imprints a new whorl on the pot. Just so, as we move through life.

    Perhaps someday we will meet on our respective journeys—I would much enjoy meeting the mind behind the text. Thanks for writing so wonderfully—it inspires my own work. ~PWALLE

    1. What a delightful comment to read! I’m glad we can inspire each other! I look forward to hear more about your journeys and musings 🙂

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