Tea

No more beautiful sight than tea leaves unfurling themselves, as if from a long sleep.

Then they steep, and let go. Their colour and flavour infusing what was mere water with their glow. Sinking slowly to the bottom, they gracefully give up centre stage when done. You can see the liqueur spread out gently, the coloured trails marking currents that carry it away. Slowly, but surely they take the what was bland and make it their own.

There is nothing that can escape the embrace of the flavour, it even rises as steam from the cup. The tea leaf sends its love to another only to be drained away. It’s message is it’s life’s purpose. It has let its work go forth and make a moment for another. Limp, sodden and forgotten, it turns cold. Only to be remembered by those who ha savoured the moment to feel the beauty that filled their senses.

Who doesn’t have a story that started with a cup of tea? The simple cutting shared with a loved one in a damp monsoon – who knew one would be sharing one’s life with them? Or that first cup of tea offered in a job interview. A moment when you resolve whether you are going to take all the conflicting advice given to you, or be your own person. Then the tea that arrives magically in the morning for some. For others, who make it – the moment of pure stillness as you wait for the water to boil, the fragrance that is only yours as it is poured out. That moment when you lay the weight of the shopping down, the tea brewing – or boiling – as you put things away, then sit down (maybe with a gentle grunt) to savour the moment. Or that, when you have packed up, ready to move, and there is just time for that one cupppa from the flask.

Who can forget the first time they had tea that was different from the one they always had – who knew that it even could be different? Infidels and traitors! They put sugar in it?! Who has milk in their tea?! Where is the masala?! How can one have tea without ginger?! They boiled it?!! They did not boil it – it was like dishwater?!! And for some like my grandmother – they had tea – cheapos! We are tea fascists, some of us.

Is there a perfect cup of tea? Of course there is.. for each of is, it is the one that wakes us up. For some of us it is the quest that keeps us going.. onwards .. towards that next cup – who knows what might unfurl?

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One thought on “Tea”

  1. In your next letter I wish you’d say
    where you are going and what you are doing;
    how are the plays, and after the plays
    what other pleasures you’re pursuing:

    taking cabs in the middle of the night,
    driving as if to save your soul
    where the road goes round and round the park
    and the meter glares like a moral owl,

    and the trees look so queer and green
    standing alone in big black caves
    and suddenly you’re in a different place
    where everything seems to happen in waves,

    and most of the jokes you just can’t catch,
    like dirty words rubbed off a slate,
    and the songs are loud but somehow dim
    and it gets so terribly late,

    and coming out of the brownstone house
    to the gray sidewalk, the watered street,
    one side of the buildings rises with the sun
    like a glistening field of wheat.

    —Wheat, not oats, dear. I’m afraid
    if it’s wheat it’s none of your sowing,
    nevertheless I’d like to know
    what you are doing and where you are going.
    —Elizabeth Bishop

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