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A Tea-lightful Experience at Luna Lu

A Tea-lightful Experience at Luna Lu

Tea ceremony at Luna Lu

Lunar brews and altitude views

Bar Lulu Evening View (Bridge)
Bar Lulu Evening View (Bridge)

Lunar Brews and Altitude Views: A Tea-lightful Experience at Luna Lu

On a clear, almost winter’s, night on Sydney’s harbour, we were treated to a confluence of events – an ancient Chinese tea ceremony and the blasting of bright lights from Vivid.

Seated cosily within the sandstone walls of Luna Lu restaurant at The Rocks – which has front row seats to the stunning light show on the Opera House sails care of local artist Julia Gutman – our tea ceremony master Cara Chen begins.

Daintily poised behind her traditional tea tray, Cara softly explains the wisdom and philosophy of this 21-part mindfulness ritual which has been an integral part of Chinese culture since 2700BC.

A sound bath at Luna Lu

But before tea is brewed, we start with a sound bath. And if you haven’t experienced a sound bath, you’re not living your best life.

“Let go of your mind and open your heart,” instructs Cara.

With eyes closed, the intimate private dining room is filled with the humming vibration of Tibetan crystal singing bowls and Pyrenees koshi bells that permeate every cell in my body. It is simply transformative.

Only five minutes later (though felt like an hour), we “return” to the room to be guided through the tea ceremony which Cara says is “a slow process full of discovery”.

Luna Lu Inside
Luna Lu Inside

Taiwanese Milky Oolong Tea

There are two teas to try as Cara takes us through the ritual. The first is a Taiwanese Milky Oolong which is soft and creamy on the palette.

Australian bush blend tea of lemon myrtle, eucalyptus and licorice

Stronger is an Australian bush blend of lemon myrtle, eucalyptus and licorice, which was my preference, and that of my sister who is more of a tea connoisseur. Like many Australians, the smell of lemon and eucalyptus is reminiscent of our childhood.

But it is not just the taste of the tea that is important, it is the process and ritual that is at the heart of the ceremony.

Placed in front of us are two small cups; a tall cup is the aroma cup and the wide one is what we drink from. Crucial to the philosophy is that tea drinking is social experience; we all pour each other’s tea, and never our own. Ensuring the cup is filled to only 80 per cent, and does not spill, encourages patience and attention.

21 parts to the tea ceremony

High tea at Luna Lu
High tea at Luna Lu Image courtesy of Kylie Keogh

“There are 21 parts to the tea ceremony and all parts mean something. We pour the tea anti-clockwise, which represents the hand movement in tai chi for welcome,” Cara explains.

“Tea ceremony is a connection between humans and nature.”

My favourite part of the tea ceremony involved the tea pet which is possibly the cutest thing ever. It is a small ceramic figure or animal that sits atop the tea tray and hot water, or leftover steeped tea, is poured over it throughout the ceremony. Over time the clay absorbs the tea’s unique colour and aroma.

There is a belief that when a tea pet is adopted by the tea master it has no soul. But by pouring tea (which has a soul) over it, the pet is endowed is then with a soul.

Even cuter is that some tea pets (including Cara’s) emit an arc of “pee” which indicates whether the tea temperature is perfect!

Becoming a tea ceremony master

Becoming a tea ceremony master is serious business. Cara has a university degree from China and says, “you can dedicate your whole life to this ceremony”.

High tea at Luna Lu
High tea at Luna Lu

After finishing our tea, it’s time for some High Tea that includes macaroons, mille-feuille cake, dumplings, spring rolls, and the perfect accompaniment to tea – scones with jam and cream.

Tea ceremonies, like calligraphy, are ancient Chinese art forms that help embed a sense of mindfulness – no matter how fleeting. In our culture of rushing, scrolling, gulping food and drink to an almost manic degree, taking the time to sit still and quietly pour and appreciate the notes of a cup of tea is a welcome relief.

If meditation is not for you, I highly recommend these tea ceremonies as an alternative to catching elusive moments of inner peace.

Luna Lu hosts tea masterclasses with Cara’s company Altitude Tea and includes the High Tea and a glass of sparkling for $150pp (minimum 20 people). For more information

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