How to brew the perfect cup of tea
Bow to the east to honor Shennong who accidentally drank tea when some Camellia Sinensis leaves blew into his bowl of hot water. Bow to the west to honor Lu Yu who realized the importance of quality water in the perfect cup of tea. Fill an aluminum kettle half way full with filtered water. Take a seat to watch it boil. Consider this a form of enlightenment and while you are meditating on the blue flame remember the Bodhidharma who fell asleep meditating and was so disgusted with his weakness that he cut off his eyelids which fell to the ground to become tea plants. Picture yourself without eyelids.
Meditate on the fact that you have never even seen a tea plant or even a tea leaf that was not smooshed up into a paper bag with a Lipton tag hanging from it. Root in your cupboard for some real tea. Someone gave you some as a party favor at a baby shower last year. Find the tea in the drawer you use for wayward coupons, used Bic lighters and screws that have come loose. It has spilled a bit so you sweep it up carefully along with a few pencil shavings. For flavor you think quite earnestly.
Run to the CD player to put on some music appropriate for the perfect cup of tea and stub your toe on the sofa and scream with pain just as the whistle on the tea kettle sounds igniting the fierce migraine that you were trying to avoid by having the perfect cup of tea. Choose the first thing to play that you see on the play queue which happens to be Burl Ives singing Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer. It is February.
Shut off the heat under the tea kettle and remember to let the water cool a bit. Center yourself. Not too hot. Heat brings out the bitter flavors. You wonder how bitter pencil shavings are as the hot water flows over the tea bag you have constructed out of loose leaf tea tied in a nylon bag that is made of the toe of a pair of pantyhose that no longer fits. Lets face it. No pantyhose fit. Men must have designed them.
You head for the cabinet to find medicine to absorb the stunning knife-like sensation throbbing in your temples and the only pain reliever you can find is your child’s grape flavor Tylenol so you read the dosage information on the back and calculate the ratio of your weight to your child’s weight and say what the fuck and drink the whole bottle. It tastes like grape shoe leather and you are pretty sure that once the sugar in the Tylenol wears off your headache will be worse, but you do have the perfect cup to tea to drink which now has been steeping for about 20 minutes in your old pantyhose. The pencil shavings are floating near the top so they are easy to flick out. You fling the pantyhose into the sink, pick up the only magazine you can find which is your husband’s fall issue of “Storm water: a utilities magazine” and make your way to the sofa. Ahh you think, settling back and closing your eyes. Thank God for eyelids.
Amy L. Cornell aka Esmerelda
Me (left) and the author Esme
Photo from Sweetcake's blog