One of the great things about tea is that it taps into something very basic, human, and elemental. Good tea stimulates all of the senses. All of them.Perhaps tea is so profound because, let’s face it, everything boils down to sex.
Sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. Tea is in fact very sensual. It touches our senses and allows us to experience them more fully. Tea as a training ground for sensory stimulation, we can take the experience to every little thing in life. Learn to let the senses flourish with tea, and they’ll be blooming in other areas too. Perhaps tea is so profound because, let’s face it, everything boils down to sex.
Our desire to procreate is pretty darn powerful. After all the entire ancient Trojan war was brought on by the desire for Helen, right? So if it all boils down to sex, and sex is all about the senses, then those things that stimulate the senses also stimulate sexual desire. Basically, there’s something deep and magical that good tea stimulates and satisfies. If we take the time to enjoy it. Slowly.
So how do we enjoy tea? Let it overtake the senses.
Start with water. We are made of water. The planet is made of water. And boiling water is mandatory for tea. No water, no tea. Good tasting water, good tasting tea. Boil the water. Touch the leaves. Feel their fragility and dryness. Somewhere, thousands of miles from wherever you are, there was a person who with just two fingers plucked those leaves for you. By hand. They touched the leaves first, and now you touch them second. Connection. Touch the leaves and realize it. Add the water to the leaves.Is it freshly mowed grass on a hot summer day, or decomposing maple leaves on a forest floor in October?
The leaves unfurl, blossom open, yield to the warmth of the water and become pliable. No longer dry and brittle, the leaves release their nectar into the cup and show their resilience and softness and strength. Together the sun, wind, rain, and fog nurtured the leaves for you. See them open to you.
Smell. Swirling steam rises and releases aromas. What do you smell? Is it freshly mowed grass on a hot summer day, or decomposing maple leaves on a forest floor in October? Is it sun dried kelp dried on a sandy beach, or orchids from a humid tropical jungle?
Sip. The body of every tea is unique. How does it feel in your mouth? Thick like honey, or thin like tissue paper? Rich like warm cream, or gauzy like dove feathers?
Taste. What do you notice? Stonefruit like apricots and nectarines? Earth like peat moss? Spice like black pepper? Fruit like a navel orange? So many tastes to explore, consider organizing the flavors into categories: earth (moss, barnyard, river mud), vegetable (asparagus, seaweed, corn), fruit, spice, flower, grass type (hay, clover, golf course), body of water (ocean, bubbling brook, still pond), mineral (iron, flint, gold).
Aftertaste. What lingers? What sticks with you all day long after the final sip? Is it something new? Something familiar?