▲ An Dae Jin, owner of Haengbokhan Chasil, specifically designs tea rooms with the purpose of encouraging families to communicate and meditate. Photo by Kim Soo Yang
One might not expect to find a two-story house with a garden of big trees, green grass, and flowers right in the middle of Seogwipo City. Again one might be surprised to see a variety of tea sets with tea tables, pots, cups, and other small tea gadgets (the uses of which can hardly be divined) upon entering. Haengbokhan Chasil is a tea shop which offers light meals including perilla mugwart-rice-cake soup, steamed rice wrapped with an aromatic lotus leaf, and home-made vegetarian dumplings. All choices seem healthy and are complemented by the various kinds of tea available there.
Choi Jung Won is the hostess of Haengbokhan Chasil and provides the home cooked meals. Her husband, An Dae Jin, is both literally and figuratively, an architect. He is building another tea shop in Ojori, Seongsan-eup, Seogwipo, which is to open in months. He also runs the Ilso Tea Life Research Institute and designs tea rooms with tea sets, as can be seen in the Seogwipo tea house. He had an exhibition called “Total Tea Room Gallery” on a nationwide tour in 2008, but this is just the beginning. He created all the drawings, calligraphy work, and poetry inside the tea house and published four books of poetry. He asserts that everyone should have a dream, saying when he opened Haengbokhan Chasil, that was all he had. His dream came true, and the medium for his dreams has been tea and meditation.
He said that he has been training his mind and body through meditation his entire life, and tea has been the best company to hear his inner voice. His practice must have been different from that of monks because he has a family, a wife and children, and his situation reminded me of the tea house’s busy surroundings.
He exudes a strong confidence, which is evident on his face and in his voice. He made his dream come true, and this feat must have been achieved through his constant efforts to be awakened by meditating and drinking tea.
He laments that people do not manage to spare 10 minutes for meditation, though they never forget to have meals regularly. That’s why every house needs a tea room where everyone can naturally come to meditation. Whenever any family member feels like brewing, others can gather to drink tea, and consequently freely communicate. Drinking tea makes people more open-minded and sometimes even inebriated. Chwi Da Seon, another name for the tea house, means “intoxicate by tea and meditation.” If you want to give the Asian tea experience a shot, Hangbokhan Chasil might be a good choice.
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