By Thich Nhat Hanh

In the old times people liked to drink tea, lotus tea, right among the lotus flowers. The lotus ponds were very big, and thousands of lotus flowers would bloom every day. If you wanted to have the best kind of lotus tea, this is what you would do: in the morning, or at noon, you would take a small boat into the middle of the pond where the lotus flowers were blooming, and you would take out your tea and entrust it to the heart of the lotus flower. And then in the afternoon, the lotus flowers would begin to close, and the lotus flower would keep the tea all night. Meantime, the perfume of the lotus flower would penetrate into the tea.

Early in the morning, you would ask a few friends of yours to come to your boat, or bring their own boats, and all of you would row to the lotus that had been trusted to perfume your tea, and you might select the time you like, when the sun is about to come up and shine on the lotus. And when you were there, among the lotus, you would take out your teapot, your teacups, and hot water…you might even bring a charcoal stove with you and make hot water in your boat. It is very fresh in the morning, very beautiful, the air is very clean. Then you would bow to the lotus, recover the tea that you have put there the night before, and prepare lotus tea right there. And you would enjoy the lotus pond, the early morning, your friendship, and you would spend one hour, even two hours, just drinking tea and having a wonderful time.

And after that you would go back with your small boats. This was enjoyment, and you didn’t need a lot of money, because in the countryside every house had a small boat, and there were a lot of canals you could travel by boat. In Thailand, for instance, many monks in the morning go on their alms rounds just by rowing a boat. They don’t use the highway, they don’t use automobiles, they just use a small boat to go on alms rounds.