A Tea Ceremony with Shiva Rose

This year at Rancho, we’re inviting you into something deeper: more mindful practices, richer experiences, moments to inspire an opening of the heart. On multiple occasions throughout the year, Shiva Rose will join us at both my Austin compound and out at the Rancho to lead us in a tea ceremony, a meditative practice that will calm the mind, remove energetic blockages and connect us — becoming one united heart and one quiet mind present in a single moment. Whether you are a longtime student to this ancient tradition or completely new to the tea ceremony practice, you will feel at home here. Sessions are an hour long, with food and drink to follow.

Here’s a note from Shiva on discovering this ancient practice:

I was introduced to the way of tea—cha dao—by my tea sister Tien Wu (Baelyn Elspeth). I had a very visceral reaction the first time I sat in on a tea ceremony. I didn’t understand why we were sitting in silence and why we were drinking this tea. I was frustrated and agitated, and I didn’t think I would be participating in the tea ceremony again anytime soon. 

Because a lot of the sisters in my community practice tea ceremony, I soon found myself sitting in on my second ceremony, and this time my reaction was a complete reversal, as I had pushed through my previous resistance. I started crying, and I found myself deeply moved by the presence and power of tea. Rather than being annoyed by the silence and the stillness, I became aware that this was the very purpose of practicing tea ceremony: to slow down enough that you become one mind that is fully present and in the moment.

You hear a lot of talk in the media about mindfulness, and the tea ceremony is a mindfulness practice. You have to be totally present as the water boils, as the leaves steep, and as you pour and drink the tea. As I began to appreciate and understand the tea ceremony, I realized how wonderful it was for me. I have a very active mind, and this ceremony gave me a focus for my meditation. It allowed me to let my feelings pass without judgment and to remain still and calm.

I practice tea ceremony with an organization called Global Tea Hut, and my teacher, Wu De, often talks about the tea ceremony as a way of connecting to nature. Many of us live in fast-paced urban environments and often fail to take notice of the natural world around us. The tea ceremony allows us to slow down enough to connect with the spirit of the earth. When I went to China to learn more about tea, the group that I traveled with worked on organic farms, harvested leaves, processed them over fires, and even visited the studio of a master potter who makes beautiful clay vessels that we drank from. This trip deepened my love and appreciation for the process of preparing tea for ceremony, because I got to experience firsthand how labor intensive producing it really is. We could pick leaves for a full day and still barely have what we needed for a pot of tea. 

Wu De taught me a simplified version of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Ancient Chinese and Japanese ceremonies celebrate nature by incorporating all of the elements: water, the fire and air used to boil the water, and the earth represented by the tea itself and the clay cups. Sometimes we will also burn incense during the ceremony to represent ether. We often practice outside, and a few years ago, I commissioned a craftsman from Ojai to build a small teahouse in my backyard, which has become my refuge. I drop into a deeper place when I am listening to the birds and feeling the breeze purifying me. I always see butterflies fluttering by and hear frogs singing. Drinking tea in my teahouse feels like entering into a whole new realm. Tea is a medicine, and it brings people together. It makes it possible to sit down with a stranger, share a cup, and develop a connection without saying a word.

A little about Shiva Rose:

I was raised to bohemian parents in the country side of Iran until the revolution there occurred. I went suddenly from a childhood nurtured on imagination and nature to life as a refugee. As one assimilating to a new life, I sought solace in old films, fashion and books which led me to work as an actress in TV, film and theater. After having my first daughter in my early twenties I was diagnosed with an auto immune condition. This diagnosis, and yearning for a healthy planet for my daughter, propelled me on a path as a naturalist and activist. The Local Rose was born out of a desire to celebrate a holistic, healthy, authentic lifestyle without sacrificing taste and glamour. My two daughters and I now live in the Santa Monica Mountains where we raise most of our own produce, nestled by a creek with our cat, rabbits and chickens.