Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Art of Tea

Sometimes all you have to do is walk outside in a new place and you’ll find an adventure. I’m in Vancouver, and I learned to drink green tea. The clay tea pots catch my eye, and I walk inside Modern Tea Art where three Chinese gentlemen are sitting at the tea bar taking tea. I inquire about the tea, and Mr. Lee invites me to sit down. He is dousing a pot that looks like it belongs in a playhouse with steaming water. Each of us has two cups—one tall and one short. Mr. Lee pours the tea into the tall cup, shows me how to cover it with the shorter, wide-brimmed cup and then how to hold the cups and flip them so that the tea flows into the drinking cup.

I learn that I should inhale the aroma of the tea from the tall cup before drinking. This mutes the stronger flavors of the tea, much like sniffing brandy before sipping. Not to mention it is good for the sinuses and can help with allergies. Inhaling the steam still rising from the cup, the scent of white flowers greets me. Mr. Lee tells me that is possible. He smiles. There are over 700 varieties of green tea. Each with a unique flavor and aroma. Maybe flowers, maybe not. If I want flowers, then flowers.

We drink half the tea, turn the cup and let it warm our fingers. Now we sip the tea, savor the fragrance of flowers and green, enjoy the company of old friends and new acquaintances. I didn’t think I’d have time to discover Vancouver, but just outside the hotel entrance, adventure was waiting. The marvels and the miracles of life.

While we drink tea, we talk about the benefits of green tea—good for digestion, calming, cleansing. Many vitamins. But the benefits are lost and the tea turns bitter if it’s over heated or steeped too long. If it’s stored too long, it will ferment again as well, which causes the tea to turn.

Mr. Lee’s friend pats his forehead with a hanky. “No more for me,” he says. “I’m good.” The tea has begun to take effect. “You drink this tea for 60 years, and it makes a habit.”

“I’ve had worse habits,” I say.He smiles. We sip our tea.

1 comment:

Alexander Field said...

Nice story. Thanks for that piece of stillness today. Love it. : )