Wellspring Tea Room
4538 Park Boulevard,
Outside, it's University Heights. Inside, you're thinking, "Taipei?" It's a world of rattan mats, Asian zithers, palapa roofs, blond-wood furniture, books on Buddhism, live bamboo, gurgling water fountains, gongs, several smiling Buddhas, groups of Chinese ladies, and the nun, Venerable Man Guei. This is the Wellspring Tea Room, part of the Buddha's Light Bookstore, part of the Hsi Fang temple of the Taiwan-based Fo Guang Shan International Buddhist Order. But what you're here for is simple. To understand the act of preparing, pouring, and appreciating tea. Order a fresh fruit tea. The tea-maker will be giving blessings and chanting prayers to take the ego away from the act. It will come on an oval bamboo tray, the tea in a glass pot. Now, try to look at the patient Man Guei. She'll walk you through the whole formal act, reminding you that tea ceremonies were a Chinese, not a Japanese, invention. "Be mindful," she'll warn. "Think of your connections to everything in your cup. Think of where this tea came from. Of the farmer preparing the earth. Of the fecundity in that earth. Of planting the orange seeds, and mandarin and passion fruit and apple and pineapple seeds. Of the sun warming them and radiating the energy to grow. Of the seeds responding, thrusting."