My tea journey started as a child with Lipton Orange Pekoe tea. My mom would give us tea with lemon and sugar when we were sick, and it was a comfort and help to ease us into wellness. It wasn’t until I was 14 that I discovered another tea, Constant Comment, a black tea with cloves and spices. That tea was a revelation. When I was 18, I discovered a new tea at a restaurant in Chinatown that I loved, though didn’t know what it was. I carried the teabag paper in my wallet for years looking for that tea. The paper was in Chinese and I didn’t discover that it was Jasmine tea until I was in my 20’s.
Jasmine tea was the best beverage I had ever tasted at that point, though later I would discover Darjeeling (the champagne of teas), Irish Breakfast and Earl Grey, a revelation of black tea with bergamot flavoring. Next was Mango Iced tea that was served at a restaurant. My mom and I searched and searched for it and found it at a small shop in San Clemente, California.
The universe loves to give us what we love.
My next unlikely experience with tea came when I was in my 30’s and attending San Francisco State University. I took a course in Asian Humanities focused on China in the Sung Dynasty. Tea’s birthplace is in ancient China. In 2732 BC, Emperor Shennong discovered tea when leaves rom a wild bush blew into his boiling pot of water. In this course we studied the poetry of Su Tung-po, and we read The Gay Genius: The Life and Times of Su Tungpo, by Lin Yutang. Su Tung-po lived from 1037-1101 and his wonderful poetry has survived. It contained hints of metaphysics and the love of nature. What I remember of him was his detailed writing about tea.
Tea ceremonies were almost a religion to Su Tung-po. He said that for a proper tea you needed 23 special utensils, and if you only had 22 not to invite a guest. He and his friends would travel to a river and choose to draw water from the right curve of the banks, where the water would be freshest. Then they would choose a fragrant wood for the fire. When the water boiled there would be deliberate movements for pouring the tea and contemplation. To this day I remember his joy in tea.
Enjoying your tea contemplation is a wonderful start to your Day and a worthy Bridge of Love Light.
To be continued next week…