The Zen embodiment of tea

We invite you to participate in a five senses tea tasting with Rev. Takafumi Zenryu Kawakami, a priest and thinker at Kyoto’s Shunkoin Temple. In the video-guided exercise, he uses a sparkling beverage made with freshly-ground matcha.

  • The altar in the main hall at the Shunkoin Temple in Kyoto.
  • A small stone mythical guardian dog sits on the corner of a roof at Shunkoin Temple in Kyoto.
  • A box of incense and a black bowl, set on a small table between a window and a sitting pillow at Kyoto’s Shunkoin Temple.

A five senses tea tasting

Rev. Taka will lead participants in a meditative experiment designed to heighten their senses, bring awareness of their own physical sensations and to help sharpen their focus on subtle stimuli. This session will provide a recalibration of sorts, giving participants inspiration for a daily ritual that can be easily practiced at home.

Why a tea tasting?

Historically, Zen and tea are connected. In the 13th century, Zen priests introduced tea to Japan. The tea was strong enough to keep a person awake for long hours of meditation, but subtle enough to preserve inner stillness. Now that we are all used to the myriad of daily jolts and high-powered assaults on the senses, tea remains a perfect aid for quietly pulling back the mind and honing attentiveness.

A slow awakening

In our daily lives, we are eager to find easily-digestible stimuli. From food to drinks to knowledge, we prioritize speed and quantity, but the wisdom and beauty of the natural world is not so quickly absorbed. All beings and truths are intertwined and correlated. It is important to keep our senses keen so that we can detect subtle stimuli that lead us to these truths. 

  • Feel the materials and shape of your cup, noticing the surface temperature of the vessel.

  • Watch the tiny bubbles rise through the vivid green of the freshly- ground matcha. See them pop as they reach the surface.

  • Listen to the quiet effervescence of the sparkling matcha, as the sound amplifies your thirst.

  • Breathe in the fresh grassy aroma. Freshly- ground matcha has a sweet green fragrance that foreshadows the complex taste profile.

  • Take a sip and feel the sweet umami bloom on your tongue. Slowly swallow it and feel the full-bodied texture at the back of your throat.

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View the tasting

Please join us for a full sensory experience with our revered friend and teacher, Rev. Takafumi Zenryu Kawakami.

Rev. Takafumi Zenryu Kawakami

Deputy Head Priest at Shunkoin Temple

  • Rev. Takafumi intently holds a glass of sparkling Cuzen Matcha, while demonstrating a five-senses tasting at Shunkoin Temple.
  • Rev. Takafumi takes a slow sip of  sparkling Cuzen Matcha while demonstrating a five-senses tasting at the Shunkoin Temple.
  • A close shot of Rev. Takafumi, focused with his eyes closed, demonstrating a five-senses tasting with Cuzen Matcha.

Rev. Takafumi Kawakami is a Zen priest and thinker. He teaches Zen Buddhist philosophy, meditation and other Eastern contemplative traditions to temple visitors. He co-organizes and co-hosts long-term study abroad programs in Kyoto with various universities from the U.S. He teaches Japanese hospitality classes to employees from the sales and marketing departments from Toyota’s global offices. He also gave a Ted x Kyoto presentation on “How mindfulness can help you to live in the present.” He is a member of the U.S.- Japan Leadership Program by the U.S. – Japan Foundation and a researcher at Keio Media Design of Keio University Graduate School of Media Design.

About Cuzen Matcha

Cuzen started with a simple vision: to make authentic, freshly-ground matcha accessible for modern, daily ritual. Long-time friends, Eijiro Tsukada and Oki Hatta put their minds together and designed the elegant Matcha Maker, a machine that uses traditional stone mill technology to grind whole, organic leaves into fresh, high-quality matcha. Cuzen’s Organic Matcha Leaf packets are offered for order or by subscription.

Eijiro Tsukada

Founder and CEO, Cuzen Matcha

Tokyo-born and raised, Eijiro first entered the tea business when he launched Iyemon Toku-cha, a Japanese FOSHU (Food for Specified Health Uses) tea. Later he opened Stonemill Matcha, where he delivered high-quality matcha offerings paired with cultural knowledge to the San Francisco cafe scene. A year later, Eijiro started Cuzen Matcha to pursue his passion for making authentic matcha accessible to more people. Twice a year Eijiro visits Shunkoin Temple to sit with Rev. Taka san. It is there he reaffirms his mission, while renewing internal insight and rhythm for the year.