The intensity of the forbidden is building in my life, some days it feels like a tsunami of pressure – at least there was one in my dreams. So I offer the following, as a way to calm (my) ideas.
My Introduction to a Tea Ceremony (of sorts).
Once, I got some Tea Forte in a little silver grey-green canister with lovely pen drawing picture that made me want to visit China (Qing Liu Silk Oolong). This tea was delicious- it had complex notes of buttery flavor, not floral, and was grounded without too many tannins. The fine dry strands of dark brown, nearly-black tea were delicate to touch in their pinch. Its aroma was a rare perfume.
Having that tea as I recall was quite good, I even made a note of it, normally being a coffee drinker with a taste for bitterness.
I wrote, “was delicious tea” on the can to save and get again later…Sadly, I never could. Though I searched and tried many substitutes, Qing Liu Silk Oolong tea seems gone for now. (1)
A cup of tea is sublime -when I remember to make one.
That’s what made it so special –it was delicious and engaging.
Ready for a change, (which as promised, would be “everything”-why not the tea), during the pandemic I discovered white tea, which I ordered on-line from Japan.
This tea came in a Mylar bag which, when I opened it, wow, seemed to speak to me with its heady, yet delicate aroma. “This smells like cotton candy,” I distinctly remember thinking.
With that smell, I was (automatically) transported to a hillside lined with wide shrubs of Chamomilia Sinensis. I could imagine their leaf tips glistening in the softly lit morning dew. Sitting there waiting, hoping it was its day to be picked! (That is after all what our earth wants to do! Be used and be helpful, it just needs some dignity.)
There was a path and teahouse carved of wood, inside a low table surrounded with red cushions. It was quite formal in a simple way. The lady of the house sat quietly- awaiting her tea ceremony of centuries.
I felt underdressed and oafish.
And yet, somehow, I felt welcome as her guest, even though I’m ‘heathen’ in her ways- or as you might measure me. Feeling as kin to her, did surprise me.
[Traditions are important; they have purpose for adjusting us to become more grounded and centered. Creating a place of neutral crossroad in our being, until the next thing comes. We are ready to catch or turn.]
The aroma of tea in the Mylar, was asking me to pause and slow down. To savor the process of making this cup of tea just right.
Honestly, I hadn’t done that before. This was new to me…channeling like that randomly, and yet, here we are.
For this tea, there were ‘simple’ instructions embossed on rag paper cardstock, which made me think even more, this was a procedure worth doing carefully. Maybe the gold foil letter helped. It’s an interesting process to be mindful- it is not always easy, especially when I’m wrought.
When I boil water, I like to do it Ayurvedic styleand with the intention I’m going to feel calmer. So using my misty mountain spring water, I’ll bring it up very slowly – with the burner on “2”; I then set the timer for some extra minutes to simmer gently.
Treating the water spirit thusly creates a sense of tenderness. I let the water’s bonds separately slowly, and completely – the heat drifts water’s polarized molecular chains apart. Those formed during a time of great sitting together, especially in the depths. As the groupings get shorter and lighter, water bubbles differently. The water’s texture transforms.
Once the boiling is done, with a whistle because I’m SO absentminded, I let the kettle settle for just under a minute. Then from high above the teapotfilled with two and 1/2 pinches of loose tea, I pour a thin stream very slowly – over a few minutes. You’d laugh, if you saw me; I get so serious in my at-one-ment.
Watching the water coat each tea shoot, one by one swirling gently, my focus is total.
This next part, the steeping, I also time, because the instructions are quite clear – 2.5 minutes for the first one, then add 30 seconds for each one next.
Immediately I remove the tea without adding pressure, drain, wait, and pour.
Holding a small cup in both hands the aroma is delightful, and I’m more in my presence, than earlier. The complexity of notes both fruity and floral are delicious unadorned; it’s already perfect. It needs nothing more.
My cup of tea will do for many tribulations and trials; helping me to settle. With this experience, I’ve received a gift from the G-ddess herself.
And for that too, I am grateful.
(Nor have I yet visited China -and now that they blocked their country from reading these posts, I’m guessing I might be flagged as persona non grata).
I recently learned there’s like 2000 steps in some Japanese tea ceremonies; that must be some gathering!
I grew up around the house with huge stacks of parchment paper in the hallway, my father was a fine paper salesman and my brother got to repackage the seconds – mis-dyed and mis-cuts; I know a decent paper, or hope to, when I see it.
This water seems lighter than usual- when boiled slowly and for a long time (7-20 min). Slow long boiling breaks the water molecule crystals and allows this finer water to penetrate our shrotas- channels draining waste products from inter- and intra-cellular spaces that (eventually) empty into the digestive tract.
10 inches on a good day -you know those shoulder issues act up when I forget I’m supported?!
This is not unlike how I’d make a Hollandaise (if I now weren’t so sensitive to eggs)- that was fun to do!
I try to do 2 or 3 steepings, but really it becomes aroma water without taste after then. The insert recommends six! That must have been one busy court with all those pourings!