The Way of Tea and the Five Elements: 7-day Intensive Retreat

about this event

The Way of Tea and the Five Elements

Cha Dao Intensive Retreat: Meditation, Method, and Serivce

September 25 – October 1, 2022

“Building a relationship with tea is an asset to my life. I’m thrilled to continue the practice to understand myself better and strengthen my connection to my intuition—energetic healing on many levels.” – Jessica, August 2021 retreatant

This retreat is for practitioners on the path of Cha Dao (whether experienced or at the beginning of the journey) who wish to deepen their experience of this tradition and study the more technical aspects of tea service.

The week is guided by the cycle of the Taoist Five Elements, with each day exploring a different brewing method through the lens of the corresponding element, as we relate to these practices here at Living Tea. The Water element day includes a trek to collect spring waters, followed by gongfu experiments to compare them; Fire day includes techniques for laying charcoal; and so on. Going far beyond linear technique, this approach is an immersion in the Way itself, the wisdom and cycles of Nature which inspire all of Tea practice.

Throughout the week we will practice Leaves in a Bowl, Sidehandle Bowl Tea, Gongfu Tea, Boiled Tea, and Whisked Tea. While detailed technical instruction will be given, the heart of this curriculum is the cultivation of the awareness and presence necessary for holding ceremonial space. The guiding principle of all spiritual work is that doing comes from being. We are here to deepen our skills and awareness in the profound alchemy of community, not simply check all the boxes of “how to serve a tea ceremony.” In today’s performative and commodified spiritual landscape, we enter this Way with integrity, humility, joy, and gratitude.

Schedule and Logistics

Dates: Sunday, September 25 (retreat check-in 12-2pm) – Saturday, October 1 (ending 12 noon) 

Location: Telluride, Colorado, based out of Mountain Gate Teahouse and Art Gallery

Food: Breakfast and dinner provided daily based on Five Element seasonal cooking, food as medicine, local harvesting, sustainability, and herbalism 

Each day centers one of the Taoist Five Elements, the guiding philosophy of all we do here at Living Tea. Led by the wisdom of these ancient cycles of Nature, we will explore corresponding brewing methods, meditation practices, and techniques both at Mountain Gate Teahouse and out in the stunning natural landscape of Telluride.

Sample daily schedule:

8am – 1pm

  • Meditation and tea ceremony
  • Breakfast
  • Hike*, outdoor moving meditation, exploration of the elements

1 – 4pm Break

4 – 8:30pm

  • Meditation and tea ceremony
  • Technical instruction and practice
  • Dinner

* Daily hikes are designed to accommodate most fitness levels, and are generally 1.5 miles or fewer in length. However, please expect inclines, uneven terrain, and the challenges of physical activity at high elevation. (Telluride is 8,750 feet above sea level.) We take it slow and never leave anyone behind! Reach out directly with any concerns about accessibility.

Meet your instructors, view accommodations options, and learn more at