|The Korean Way of Tea-Panyaro
Celebrating A Life of Tea
|The practice of tea and tea drinking has been in use in Korea since ancient
times, likely brought by Buddhist monks who returned from China after study-
ing the drinking of tea, together with the practice of Zen (Soen) meditation in
a form still used today, called Panyaro.
|Korea's way of tea (what would
later be known as Panyaro), was
widely practiced until the Choson dynasty
(1392-1910), when the new rulers replaced the
established Buddhist ideals with a radical form of
Confucianism. In spite of years of war and strife
with their beliefs and religion repressed, three
men worked to restore the Buddhist ideals and
ways in the late 18th century.
The first man, Tsan Chong
Yak-yong (1762-1836), was
driven into exile because of
fierce political conflicts and
spent years living in the re-
mote southwest of Korea.
It was there he came into
|contact with the Venerable Hyejang (1772-1811), who introduced him to
the Way of Tea.
Hyejang eventually became known as "Dasan" (meaning tea
mountain," the name of the hill where he lived), where he shared
his knowledge of tea with other young scholars who came to him
while in exile. One of these young scholars was the Venerable
Cho-ui who came to study with him for several months in 1809.
In the following years Cho-ui befriended other great Confucian
scholars and taught them the way of tea, and meditation he had
learned under Hyejang, exchanging poems with them he'd writ-
ten in celebration of tea, including "Dongchasong," (Song of the Tea of the East). He was eventu-
ally chosen as the leader of the revival of tea in Korea in the 19th century.
Following Cho-ui's death, however, the
Japanese took over Korea in 1910 and
suppressed their practice of tea, replacing
it with their own customs and ways. After
Korea's independence from Japan in 1945,
the third man, the Venerable Hyo-dang
(Choi Beom-sul) stepped forward, working
tirelessly to revive the Way of Tea in Korea,
and its traditional culture and tea drinking
Hyo-dang planted new tea trees, then dried
the leaves in the traditional manner, teach-
ing how to properly prepare Panyaro tea
and savor it, purifying body and mind, while
also lecturing about tea across the country.
The name Panyaro comes from two Chinese
characters for Prajna (the wisdom leading to enlight-
enment in Buddhism), and that for dew, with the
name signifying "The Dew of Enlightening Wisdom."
Panyaro green tea is produced by a precise and demanding method known as jeungcha in
Korean, a process created by Hyo-dang. When drinking a cup of Panyaro tea the first step is to
note the color of the tea, second inhale its fragrance, and third taste it on the tongue, fourth
follow the taste in the throat, and last note the lingering aftertaste in the mouth to be enjoyed.
Panyaro tea is said to have six tastes to note: salt, sweet, sour, bitter, tart, and peppery in
The phrase "Way of Tea Knows No Doors," was especially dear
to the Venerable Hyo-dang because he stressed that no matter
the social class or education, every kind of person could equally
practice the Korean Way of Tea. But he also emphasized that
while everyone could equally share in the practice of The Way of
Tea, they were equally obliged to observe the spirit of the way
expressed by the term "a concentrated heart," meaning that
while gestures made during preparation and drinking of tea may be simple, they must be made
in the appropriate spirit, depending on the state of mind, or heart, of each person.
What he meant, and the premise of Panyaro, is that everything in the surroundings, including
utensils, as well as in the heart, attitude, and gestures of those preparing and drinking tea
should have the following qualities: naturalness, simplicity, moderation, firmness, flexibility, and
As you can derive from these words, the Panyaro Korean Way of Tea is not a formalized type of
tea ceremony, but rather a "Life of Tea," in which one practices the most essential values of life
while performing one of the simplest tasks, that of preparing and drinking tea.
The Great Tea Master Chae Won-Hwa studied for ten years under the Venerable Hyo-dang. After
his passing in 1979, Chae Won-Hwa founded the Panyaro Institute for the Way of Tea in the
Insa-dong neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea, in July 1983, where she instructs members in
the Way of Tea.
Each year Chae Won-Hwa personally gathers and carefully produces
the years supply of Panyaro green tea. Students attending the
Panyaro Institute are taught the practice of Tea Zen, studying the
traditional Korean Way of Tea, together with other classic works by
great masters of the past.
|The teachings of the Panyaro Institute for the Way of Tea go beyond the purification and strengthening of mind and
body through the practice of the Way of Tea in one's daily life, to a much broader cosmic awareness of the mutual
interconnectedness of all persons, and gaining a true freedom of will, in order to build a better world for everyone.
What a wonderful goal to pursue, giving us pause, and something to think about as we sit down to enjoy a cup of
tea. What small thing can we do each day to make the world around us a better, brighter place for all? Enjoy.
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