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The Dragon's Head Blog: Propriety (tea)

At a recent Taoist Tai Chi® arts virtual meeting, one of our directors told a little story that caught my attention. He was saying how Master Moy had taught one participant to serve tea. The person had served tea to all the guests at the beginning of the meal. Mr. Moy drank his tea quickly and waited for his cup to be refilled. He repeated this little scenario a few more times. It was his way of teaching, without words.

At my house, when someone is thirsty, they help themselves and make the rounds at the same time. You don’t have to make sure the teacups are always full. If you are no longer thirsty, you don’t think about refilling the cups of the other guests.

The Chinese tradition is that the youngest person in the group serves the tea. I had learned about this at a regional weekend program. So, I served tea to the people present, then to the people who were added to the table and I ate my meal with them, without thinking of refilling their cups.

When I heard this little story, I felt very uncomfortable. Why didn’t people tell me to serve them again? Probably because there is no written rule about how to take care of others. As with all the virtues that are part of our values, the virtue of propriety is learned through observation and practice. I am learning.


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