Water – The Root of Life

July 02, 2020

Water – The Root of Life

“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard."

-Lao Tzu


We all know that without water, we’d die. But did you know that how we drink water directly impacts our health? And how water is handled directly influences the type of healing you get from a cup of tea?

You may think you knew everything you need to about water, but now, let’s rediscover water and see how it still has the ability to surprise you.

The ancient Chinese observed that water exhibits five major different types of movement in nature: long flowing water, torrential water, slow flowing water, swirling water, and the water from the sky. These five different movements of water can promote different health benefits in us.

But one thing we might notice is that most of us live a fair distance from natural water resources. Most of the water we drink is tap water. Before it even reaches the pipes that lead to our home, it goes through a complicated process of treatment and disinfection that makes bad water potable. So basically, the water we drink has more or less lost its connection to nature, and this connection to nature is the most important factor providing health benefits when we drink water and brew tea.

So when we all drink tap water, how can we bring the natural connection back to get the health benefits?

It’s all in how we handle water before drinking it. Let’s see how can we play with water to create the five different types of water movement that bring us health benefits.

Water Handling Method One – Long Flowing Water

In ancient Chinese medical science, long flowing water is for opening your whole body, cleaning waste from the body, and rushing through the whole body to cleanse the blood. Because this type of water passes down miles of mountains, runs through forests, and rises and falls but never stops, this type of water has long been used for healing people who have diseases of the hands or feet, and also helps very effectively with constipation.

When you get water from pipes, the water might travel a long distance through the pipes, but that’s not alone what makes your water into long flowing water. The water not only needs to travel a great distance, but also need to pass through fresh air in the natural outdoors. Most water sits in pipes too long to absorb fresh oxygen, which detracts from the water’s basic health benefits.

When we get water from pipes, here’s how we can handle the water to make it into fresh, long flowing water again:

When the water comes out of the pipes, we usually start boiling it immediately, then use the boiled water to brew the tea. But before we pour boiled water to brew tea, here’s how we should first handle the water:

After the water is boiled, we need two very common but most important tools to pour out the boiled water: a tea strainer and a tea pourer.

Then, it’s time we handle the water in imitation of nature:

In order to treat the water as long flowing water, we need to try to make the water flow as long as we can.

1)  First, pour the boiled water from the kettle. You’ll need to start practicing how to pour water from the kettle as long and slowly as possible. Don’t let the waterline disconnect, but keep it as thin as you can, and pour the water with an even speed.

2)  Let the stream of water pour onto the wall of the tea strainer, but don’t pour the water directly onto the filter. Make sure to find a point at the top of the tea strainer wall for the stream of water to touch down. Let the water slowly slide down to the filter, then go through the tea pourer.

Through this method, we’re basically controlling our water pouring speed and the water falling point to let the water move as long flowing water does in nature. This lets it collect as much oxygen as possible and lets the water move over a longer distance so we can get the health benefits of natural, long flowing water. By using this method, we can basically turn tap water into living water again. 

Water Handling Method Two – Torrential Water

Torrential water is like a waterfall. Ancient Chinese people believed that because this type of water fell down a big drop at a high speed and in large quantities, it has a “fast-falling” nature. This type of water is the best water for healing organs when brewing tea, as it disinhibits water from the organs.

This time around, after the water has been boiled, you won’t need the tea strainer.

You need to pour out the water from the kettle with a big waterline at a faster speed.

We generally only choose this method when using a gaiwan (literally “covered bowl,” see below) to brew tea, as only a gaiwan can produce a perfect torrent of water like a waterfall.

The only thing you need to pay attention to when practicing this method is pouring the water from the gaiwan at once. When you’re ready to pour water from the gaiwan, make sure the lid of the gaiwan is open 45 degrees, so that when you pour out the water, it can come out 100% freely and won’t burn your hand.

Handling Method Three – Slow Flowing Water

Slow flowing water is slow, not rushing. If you use this kind of water to brew tea, it can help people be calm, clear of mind, and it’s very good for the stomach, as it helps with digestion. In traditional Chinese medical science, usually, this type of water is used to cook medicine for healing diseases of the stomach.

When pouring boiled water from the kettle, you’ll need to start practicing pouring the water at a very slow speed. Let the water move like a stream. Once it has been collected into the tea pourer, let it settle for a while, just like a fresh lake that has collected fresh water from myriad streams.

Water Handling Method Four - Swirling Water

Swirling water usually can only be found at a river’s bend, where the water has undertows. In traditional Chinese medicine, this type of water can help stop vomiting and can cool down fevers.

When pouring boiled water from the kettle, we need to start making the water move like swirling water. The best tool to make this movement happen is a tea strainer. This time we need to pour water to follow the wall of the tea strainer counterclockwise. When the water is poured counterclockwise, it will follow the strainer shape and naturally become swirling water that collects in the tea pourer.

Water Handling Five - Water from the Sky

This type of water comes from rain fallen from the sky. It never touches the ground directly and goes directly into a bamboo container for storage, so it touches neither dust nor dirt.

The best tea, with a fantastic, sweet flavor, can be brewed with this type of water. After drinking, this type of tea can induce a very clean, clear, and light feeling.

In the ancient Chinese medical text The Stumbling Blocks of Medicine (Yi Bian 医碥), that the rainwater and snow water, both from the sky, are the cleanest and highest form of water, is clearly described. This type of water has the best benefits for the upper body when used to brew tea.

I usually collect fresh snow from my garden in winter for water to brew my teas, and I can use this water to play with any of the types of water movements I described above for getting different health benefits.

So, now we know what exactly are the five different types of water movements, as well as how we can play with the water to create different types of water movement for different health benefits. Now it’s time to dig deeper into the Five Elements.

For more informations. Please check

• ITA Certified Online Course - Ancient Chinese Science & Art of Brewing Tea 

• Tea book 5 Element Tea

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