Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | April 23, 2012

Resteeping the Tea; a Tai Chi Metaphor

It’s a little known fact that you can resteep tea up to seven times, and each steeping of the same tea reveals new layers of taste and experience. I know with black tea the first steeping can be a bit acidic while the second steeping of the same tea becomes sweeter and deeper, more earthy. The seventh steeping, according to tea lore, brings an experience of nirvana.

I’ve applied this concept to tai chi a few times, doing the complete form 7 times in a row only once many years ago. Each “steeping” reveals nuances and experiences that are new. Last week, I steeped the form two times in a row, and the second time, I compressed into a more small circle, more compact, much shorter steps. It was the short stepping that really informed the experience. When we practice, we look to create the proper distance between our feet, and as part of practice, we push ourselves so that we can get our stances to where they need to be. But shortening the distance in the stance while remaining centered and grounded is very cool. I’ve noticed in some xing yi performances the feet are very close together.

When we resteep the tai chi tea, if we know the form well and have practiced for a long time diligently, the form becomes more creative and spontaneous and more revealing.

So give it a try and tell me what you think or experience!


  1. Nice idea about steeping tea. I may steal your analogy from n my class in Yuma Az Touch of Tao Tai Chi. I have done three times long form ..
    No Yang Style. You are correct in the difference. In class we have done the long form two twice.
    Sometimes we have done the shorter forms up to six times. I have told the class that is why the Chen style ends in the differant direction so they repeat the form to complete the circle
    You do good I will return to your site for more insights.
    Ed Hayes

  2. Often, I repeat something I just learned numerous times in my next practice. This helps sink the move into my mind and fit it into the form. I usually get more tired as I repeat the movement – arms become heavy and tired – and this is when the form gets better. My body begins to rely less on force and more on softness. I can’t quite explain it, but when I get to that moment I feel lighter-different. It’s a good thing. Doing this with pieces of form that don’t quite feel right is also a favorite practice theme. I love the idea of ‘resteeping’ your tai chi. I think I’ll do this with the entire form next time. Thank you! Happy practicing!

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