Thursday, September 13, 2007

I Over-Steeped the Tea

I make tea almost daily. I enjoy the comfortable ritual. On the surface, the process is simple and requires few necessities: water, a heat source, tea leaves and brewing vessels. Yet in the making of tea, I have a connection to ancient history, religious purification, diverse cultural rites, times of war, hopes for peace, social graces, class snobberies, a revolution, an investment in health, my own family background and this moment as it forms around me.

I over-steeped the tea today. Viewed from the outside, this event falls within a day's minor concerns. But I know better. When I over-steep the tea, it means I am distracted. I have stolen a moment of rest from myself. The making of tea is as much the gift as the beverage.

When I begin, I think carefully about what tea I will brew. What matches my mood? What does the day call for? Then I assemble the brewing tools. As the water heats, I choose my cup and saucer. And then, when I am kind to myself, I wait. I practice breathing and suspend my active mind. I look into this fire and see the fires that have boiled the water for millennia. I make the tea and wait again as it steeps. I find the power in waiting.

And sometimes I over-steep the tea.

7 comments:

Steph said...

A special thanks to my writing class group, who were the first to hear these words. :-)

Allison said...

I love how you describe the connection of the simple act of making tea to it's history and parallels. Very nice metaphor for your current state of mind too. Isn't funny how the slightest things can tell us so much? :)

Krishh said...

Great text. I furl-ed it with 5 stars.

Anonymous said...

Yes, please write more.

Allison said...

I had to re-comment on this post because I had a similar experience today. I put a kettle of water on for tea and disappeared back into my work. After about 10 minutes it occurred to me that the water was taking a really long time to boil...well, my water had been boiling for awhile but I hadn't put the kettle lid on straight so it wasn't whistling! Time to slow down, make space, and pay attention!

Mindey said...

We are all so busy and sometimes become distracted by all the thoughts for the day and may forget and over steep a cup of tea. I know I have done this many times. For this reason, I enjoy sencha,lung ching, and gyokuro teas from Tea Laden. These green teas are more forgiving if over brewed and will still taste good, so you don't have to toss the cup just because of a little bit of distraction.

Robert said...

I was sorry to hear about your tea.