The Chinese apparently spend 40% of their lives making and drinking tea! Just like with everything else here, tea making is quite an art... the performance being as important as the taste. India too is known to be a tea country, but what we call tea in India is pretty different from what is called tea in China.
The Suri family – back home – is a highly tea-ed family. My parents, brother, wife… right down to my 5 year old nephew, seem to be highly addicted to tea and the pot is always boiling at any time of the day.
Indian tea making goes like this:
- Boil water and put in the tea leaves while the water is still boiling
- Boil the leaves till the leaves start shrieking out in pain and beg to be released.
- Dunk in some milk for color. Dunk in sugar for taste.
- Strain and pour tea into huge mugs/glasses/cups… whatever.
This is a fairly simple process. In comparison, the Chinese tea making exercise is a treat to the eyes and is a romantic endeavor with a general mood of love and longing. It’s not something you can do on-the-side while watching TV.
Here are the steps. First buy a Barbie doll kitchen set with a tiny teapot (or two), strainers and microscopic cups. The cups should be small enough for you to place 4 in your mouth. Anything larger would mean that you’re compromising on the 20 cups of tea to follow.
- Boil water in an electric kettle. Let the steam rise lazily out of the snout and flirt with you gently.
- Place some green tea in the kettle and gently pour a little water onto these leaves.
- Swirl the pot so that the water caresses the leaves… whispers sweet nothings to the leaves gently and arouses them to perform.
- Drain the water out, leaving the leaves burning with desire for more and feeling moist but unfulfilled. Create a pain of separation so that there is anguish in the pot. The color of the water drained would be the testament to what the leaves have lost in the brief relationship, and leave them slightly bitter with life, but at the same time eager to experience true love with greater devotion.
- Give the leaves fresh love … pour boiling water again and see them passionately mingle… experience new hope for life, and expect fulfillment. Indulge in their lovemaking in the pot and become part of the mood.
- Observe as the two become one, oblivious to the watching world, lost in the intensity of each other only as those destined by the Almighty to be together in life can. Live their ecstasy with them.
- Strain the water into a new pot and retain the leaves. Gently. Watch how the experience has changed both – the water and the leaves – forever! Never would life be the same for either… they have achieved nirvana and fulfilled the karma they were created for.
- Serve the tea in the Barbie cups to partake in moderation the pleasure that you have just voyeuristically been part of. Let each sip you take transport your mind to a land where love is true, giving and unconditional. Where the divine unison of two has given more than the sum of these. Drink in the smell of warmth and togetherness and savor every sip that represents a moment from a passionate relationship.
|Images from the first 'proper' tea experience.|
- Disregard concepts of monogamy and pour fresh boiling water over the leaves again… the leaves now tempered with experience, and mature from their teenage escapades. Let the leaves now go beyond the physical, and connect with the water on a sublime level. From infatuation to true bonding… let them hold hands and talk… let them get to know each other at a different level.
- Strain and sip a taste of this new experience. Close your eyes and let your mind wander to the trueness of this relationship – no longer young enough to be called youth, but still emotionally with a lot to offer. What the leaves have lost in ‘freshness’, they made up for in ‘devotion’.
- From bigamy to polygamy… pour fresh water onto the leaves and leave them to grow old together gracefully. Understand each other as closely as it is humanely possible and to accept each other with all their faults and imperfections. The passion may be long gone, and the drive and energy is a thing of the past, but the sincerity and loyalty offer a new dimension to this relationship. This is not a romp any longer… it is a journey of closeness… walking into the horizon together – fully proud of their togetherness, and confident of their unique understanding.
- Strain and sip for a flavor of this mood. Let your eyes well up with tears at the emotionally overwhelming lifetime you’re getting to experience. Comprehend the trueness of the oneness. Let the tea tease your senses and tingle memories of all that it has been through… the initial heartbreak, the youth of passion, the marriage of devotion, and the age of togetherness and love in its purest form.
|Dainty tea delights|
Use the leaves any more than three times and you’re probably a dirty old man!
So for serious tea drinkers like those in my family, the problem is that 10 normal sized cups of tea in a day could well need more than 24 hours. Not to mention the sheer emotional exhaustion if this is done right every time and the involvement is intense.
But then we could all switch over to beer, right?? :-)