We are here to learn and do something. And what are we here to learn and do? We are here to practice. And what are we practicing? We’re practicing living.Mike Newton
This is one of the most important conversations I’ve had on the podcast.
This is a conversation about tea.
It’s almost 2 and a half hours long because we had to cover restroom clams, tea that tastes like compost, isolation, loneliness, the meaning of life, J-rock, happiness, nootropics, chemicals, bodies, hurry, anxiety, wine, coffee, God, sake, beer, seasons, anime, overwork, stillness, books — everything you’d expect when two perfect strangers meet. This conversation summarizes everything I love about podcasting.
How can a simple warm beverage be so profound, so elusive, beautiful, subtle, and wise? Is there anything useful we can learn from such an unassuming liquid? Those are the questions I asked myself as I went into this conversation with Mike Newton (@thetealetter), creator of The Tea Letter, a blognewsletterYouTubechannelPodcast about tea culture.
GO FOLLOW MIKE EVERYWHERE
In this episode we cover…
- (7:00) My attempt at homebrewing Pu’er tea over a stove without a teapot or kettle
- (8:00) A tour of mike’s tea setup, and his tea of choice
- (10:00) Tea as a hobby: “Low floors, high ceilings, and wide walls.”
- (12:00) Life lessons from the practice of tea (we circle back to this point a lot).
- (15:00) “Tea makes time real.”
- (20:00) Are you awake at the wheel?
- (23:00) What led Mike to discovering the practice of tea? How has tea helped him alleviate anxiety?
- (26:00) What does Mike do and use to prepare the perfect cup of green tea?
- (32:00) How does the preparation of tea, and the tea room itself, reflect the season?
- (36:00) What are the differences and similarities between tea and coffee?
- (43:00) How to reuse leftover tea leaves
- (45:00) Mikes mission to spread the lessons from tea culture
- (47:00) Happiness, doubt, and art
- (53:00) A history of the World in 6 glasses, how the drinks we love define our culture
- (55:00) How does tea create community?
- (58:00) Nuance: coffee, tea, sake
- (1:07:00) “You can spend a lifetime drinking Oolong tea and nothing else.” A lesson on what makes tea…tea.
- (1:12:00) Why do we like what we like?
- (1:16:00) The one thing about tea that shook Mike to his core
- (1:20:00) What, philosophically speaking, is in a cup of tea?
- (1:28:00) “Now we’ve arrived at the core of it.”
- (1:33:00) Book recommendations
- (1:37:00) Thoughtful reading, drinking, and living
- (1:44:00) What constraints does Mike apply to do his best work?
- (1:48:00) Scheduling empty space to boost productivity and think clearly
- (1:52:00) Thom Yorke, Masaaki Yuasa, Satoshi Kon, FLCL, etc.
- (2:11:00) What does Mike do to get unstuck?
- (2:13:00) Sendoff: the final message
The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzō
In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki
A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage
Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
The Practicing Mind by Thomas M. Sterner
Tea in Japan by Paul Varley and Kumakura Isao
Wind in The Pines by Dennis Hirota
The Japanese Way of Tea: From Its Origins in China to Sen Rikyu by Sen XV Soshitsu
Jon Hopkins (the musician)
FLCL (the greatest anime of all time)
Please enjoy! Cheers, and here’s to your good health.
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This episode is brought to you (and powered) by Flow State Coffee!
My buddy Greg Frontiero started a company that sells products designed to put you in that groovy sensation called Flow. His first product, Flow State Coffee, is some of the best coffee I’ve tasted. Plus, it doesn’t make you feel like you’re about to have a heart attack after drinking 6 cups of it (I’ve tried).
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