Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Sip of Tea, a Bite of Thought

I'll preface this entry with another "bear with me" disclaimer - I hope you'll forgive this entirely self-indulgent post; another stroll through the dusky narrows of my heart and stomach. Sure, it's about food...but only as much as anything so self-exploratory can be about anything in particular.

It starts with a moment. I sit in repose on what used to be my bed (still is, officially, but I've since moved on to bigger, more comfortable sleeping quarters where cats' noses touch mine as we sleep and most times I wake up reaching for ghostly figures and phantom warmth). Clean, white light of Sunday morning streams through open windows. Strains Neil Young's "Live at Massey Hall 1971" mingle with my dad's tippity-tap on the keyboard at the desk by the windows. I stare at the ceiling, holding back the urge to scroll through my phone's contacts and send a random text. Nervous habit, that, but usually my chief means of communication with the outside world. All of a sudden (it's a rather languid sudden, though; today isn't for rushing about) it hits me: I'm thirsty. And a bit hungry.

I lift myself out of bed and move quietly out of the room, down the hallway that still holds the crappy watercolor and crayon drawing of trees reflected on water I made in third grade that somehow became the cornerstone of any perceived artistic talent within me. Down the stairs, back into the kitchen whose description you, reader, ought to be familiar with - you have been reading, haven't you? A quick aside: this post, while mostly introspective, will also be at times fiercely second-person. I hope it doesn't seem confrontational.

I reach into the daisy-printed bucket that holds an indeterminate number of tea bags and pull out one of the new Mighty Leaf green tea bags my mom scooped up the other day. As I read the tea bag's paper holder, a familiar, delicious smell wafts up and touches my nose. It's very subtle, like a closed-eye dandelion brush, but memories of summer days at the local pool, picnics where the wind blows the grass against my toes, and cold milk with Cheerios all clamor and shove to the front of my mind. I look down. Strawberries! Perhaps, I think as I write (how wonderfully postmodern, huh?), the use of an exclamation point is a bit superfluous - I generally try to reserve such drastic punctuation for truly urgent communication (Fire! Watch out! I'm so excited!), and don't get me started on multiple exclamation points (which are, in my mind, only appropriate in prose dealing with natural disasters and grisly, overplayed death scenes). I'll keep it there, though, since I want to convey the tinge of excitement that welled up when I noticed the plump, barn red fruits. I confess I didn't sample one - really, the smell was enough for me. You know what I mean. Right?

Back to my tea. I tore open the outer package and extricated a uniquely-bagged specimen of green tea infused with some tropical blend of fruit essence. I had laughed when Mom had described a new kind of tea whose leaves were "pulled apart, but whole," and whose gauzy wrapping was "more open" than normal tea bags. I mean, aren't most tea bags filled with pulled apart tea leaves wrapped in mesh? I was, I admit, skeptical, but when I examined this bag and pulled it close to my nostrils to take in its latent aroma I realized she was right. Instead of pulverized tea powder, nearly-whole leaves of green tea rested in a delightfully translucent pouch. The bag wasn't like its nearly-opaque cousins, but rather was more of a dusky viewing-glass to the tea that only barely obscured its dark green contents. More of a tea display than a tea bag, if you ask me. I dropped the bag into an empty mug and flipped the switch on the electric teapot (please note, reader, that this is one of the single most wonderful inventions of the 20th century, if not ever. Just imagine, hot water whenever you want it).

Ding! (Another exclamation point, but this time to reinforce my use of urgent onomatopeoia). I turned the teapot over, awaiting a steaming cascade of water to hit the tea and transubstantiate into what I imagined would be an excellent drink. Not so, though, since I had failed to notice the teapot was empty. Minor setback indeed. I'll cut to the chase: water in, water out, tea made.

"Green Tea Passion," promises the protective tea-pouch. It makes me think: I've been struggling so much with that barely-kindled fire within. I seek my own passion, my unique blend of ache and want and horizon-looking struggle. Perhaps it's time I take a step back. What do I seek? Well, with each sip of my not-too-hot tea I realize one thing: I'm passionate about tea.

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