Wag More, Bark Less at Zen Dog
What exactly is a Zen dog, you ask?
Go ask Larry Murphy of Zen Dog Studio and Tea House Gallery if dogs truly have a Buddha-like nature, or a tendency toward the enlightened divine.
Zen Dog Studio and Tea House Gallery: where East truly meets West.
His art studio and tea house gallery – located right in his home – is not your typical tea house: it’s a charming and unique home in the English Tudor revival style that was built in 1927 by Nelson (and thus located in the Nelson Addition in the Crown Hill area of Ballard).
Larry, a retired Seattle architect (a career that spanned 27 years), has turned gallery curator, art framer, artist (photographer), and tea master. All in a very zen surrounding of harmonious peace, tranquility, and living in the moment. Larry opened Zen Dog Studio in 2000 and expanded it to also include tea tastings in his Tea House Gallery in 2003. (The Tea House Gallery is currently celebrating its 6th anniversary with a brand new website, so check it out (above) if you haven’t already done so.)
Time spent with Larry is precious time well spent.
“The Tea House Gallery was born out of Zen Dog Studio. After showing Asian Art and my photography for several years Zen Dog Studio expanded to include a Tea House because of my passion for tea and the tea culture of China. To preserve the traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony by offering daily tea tasting and Gong Fu style tea,” Larry shared in a recent interview. (This style is discussed in more detail in another Heed the Hedonist tea house article on Floating Leaves Tea.)
Tea tastings at Larry’s gorgeous abode are free (during the interview visit, your Hedonista
was gifted a small tea sample to take home with her). The tasty, traditional teas featured hail from both China and Taiwan (with a few floral/herbal teas thrown into the mix). Tai Chi
is offered every Saturday morning from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. ($15, tea tasting included), and Larry expects to soon offer up his home as a venue for poetry readings. In fact, the last time I visited Larry, he read me the following poem from the book Tea Wisdom
by Aaron Fisher (available for purchase through this site):
The first cup moistens the throat;
The second shatters all feelings of solitude;
The third cup cleans the digestion and brings to
forethought the wisdom of 5,000 volumes;
The fourth induces perspiration, evaporating all
of life’s trials and tribulations;
With the fifth cup, the body sharpens, crisp;
And the sixth cup is the first step on the road to
The seventh cup sits steaming – it needn’t be
drunk, as from head to feet one rises to the abode of the immortals.
~ Lu Tong
So, in honor of Lu Tong, below are my tasting notes for no less than seven cups of Jasmine Pearl green tea:
1st cup: The bouquet is green tea entwined with jasmine flowers – imagine breathing deeply while standing in a field of flowers on a fresh spring day. The color has a dark caramel tone. The taste is caramel and sweetness with a pleasant, green chlorophyll-like finish. Very clean mouth feel.
2nd cup: As the tea leaves open up, this brew becomes subtly different; it has a stronger fragrance, is more green than brown in color, and takes on a smoky taste with a slightly bitter (but not unpleasant) finish.
3rd cup: Here the color again lightens up and the caramel and smoky flavors combine. The taste gradually becomes softer, with a slight buttery mouth feel.
4th cup: In this brew, the green tea taste becomes prominent, with the jasmine fading to the background. A chlorophyll aftertaste leaves the mouth feeling … organic.
5th cup: The taste here consists of earthy notes of nut and wood. The color of the tea is still increasingly lighter with every subsequent pour.
6th cup: Once again the jasmine returns in subtle tones. Everything is light about this pour – color, taste, bouquet, and texture.
7th cup: We shall leave this cup for Buddha … for, according to Lu Tong, enlightenment is close at hand.
(Note: you, too, can be an editorial teaophile – simply comment on the teas you purchase at Zen Dog right on their website.)
Both Larry and the Zen Dog Studio and Tea House Gallery are all about personality, for both are wonderful, rich characters. Spending time with both of them evokes a serenity akin to what one feels when one travels to places and meets people abroad. You’ll leave feeling truly blessed for the experience. For zen – the search for enlightenment through a way of calm and peaceful thought and reflection – may not be found in its entirety upon your first visit to Zen Dog, but it’s certainly a great place to start. For, as Lao Tzu said, “a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step”. So step on over to Zen Dog and let your journey begin. (Go on, don’t be shy – go and get your Zen on!)
Note: In order to comply with FTC Act 16 C.F.R. 255, Heed the Hedonist would like to disclose that it does receive media “comps” and/or media discounts – but not in exchange for favorable coverage, or for withholding unfavorable coverage, of the given venue/meal/performance/product/service.