The Art of Tea and Blogging

I’ve been fascinated with tea since I was a child. The smell of coffee makes me a bit ill, but the gentle scent of a green tea is cherished. The earthy aroma of puerh sinks my feet into the rich earth. The flowery to nutty scents of a fine barely roasted oolong calms my spirit. Tea is my drink of choice.

I began exploring tisanes, the herbal teas of North America. Mint, chamomile, lemongrass, hibiscus petals, rosehips, ginger, licorice root, and fruit teas. I’d drink them hot and pure, or mixed together. Lemon and ginger, hibiscus and rosehips, mint and ginger, chamomile and lemon…it was an orgy of experimentation on the senses and palette.

In my forties, I began to branch out into the history and traditions of tea beyond the United States. Japaneses greens, India and China’s oolongs, all were candy to my eager senses.

A couple years ago, I was privileged to learn the Gungfu technique of serving Chinese tea with the Gawain and the teapot. No more tea bags for me. It was loose teas all the way. Studying Chinese tea opened up new horizons to explore green, white, yellow, oolong, red, puerh, black, and all their variations. I learned how to prepare and drink from a Gawain, a “lid-covered bowl,” and serve Chinese tea in several ancient traditional forms.

A visit to my home includes a short tea ceremony, and answering the many questions Americans have about such a strange culture and ceremony.

I’m often asked why I’m so enthralled with tea, especially Asian cultures. It’s hard to answer. I’ve always been fascinated with Asian and Oriental cultures, the costumes, history, traditions, and stories. A favorite childhood movie was the movie with Shirley MacClaine, My Geisha, about a red-headed, blue-eyed American woman determined to win back her husband’s interest by pretending to be a geisha, and succeeding. I often wondered if I, a red-head, blue-eyed, freckle-faced girl could succeed disguised as a geisha.

That’s not why I continued to be fascinated with Chinese culture and tea. There is more to answering this question with the easy answers.

Recently, while serving myself oolong tea in my own little ceremony, I realized that tea was an excuse to slow down and think. The process, even with tisane (herbal teas), stopped me in my tracks. It slowed me down. It became my ritual.

I’d put water in the kettle and wait for it to boil. I wouldn’t walk away as I’d had experience boiling down a few pots of water to bad consequences. I’m locked in proximity to the tea kettle.

I debate which tea is appropriate for the moment, checking in with my senses and emotions. What mood am I in? How do I feel? Do I need a the perk up of a little caffeine or the stomach soothing puerh. Do I need the mood-raiser of a fragrant tea, or the taste of a bitter or sweet tea to stimulate my senses? I make my choice and put the tea in the tea strainer or tea ceremony pot, awaiting the hot water.

I pour the water over the tea and watch the leaves slowly open, releasing their oils into the water. The steam rises off the soaking tea and I breath it in, filling my sinuses and feeling the steam and scents move down through my lungs and into my blood stream. Already the energy is returning to my body.

The tea is removed at is proper time, usually 30-90 seconds, and I carry the cup to my desk and sip the hot liquid, breathing in again deeply.

Drinking tea is a very sensual experience. The cup is hot in my hand, warming my hands and moving up my arms as the blood flow increases. The scent drifts into my nose. The taste smooths my tongue. The liquid fills my stomach, warming and stimulating me from the inside out.

It’s a moment for me. A quiet moment. A moment held. A moment of peace in the chaotic rush of my day.

I feel the tea in and around me for another moment, then set the cup down and place my fingers on the keyboard and return to the race through the Internet.

I’m back to work, blogging.

One comment on “The Art of Tea and Blogging”

  1. I still like coffee, but I drink far more tea of all kinds. One of my favorite places to write away from home is a tea shop not far from my house.

    In October, I published a blog post about the oolong tea in China’s Fujian province.

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