Sunday, May 05, 2013

Things I've Done Right: my teapot


I get a little down on myself every now and again.  Lately I’ve had a tough go of feeling like I’m making good choices.  It’s ok.  You have good days; you have not as good days.  But there are things that make me smile.  Things I can see that I’ve done right.  Today it’s my tea set. 

This last summer we went to China.  I knew when we talked about going and the opportunity came up we HAD to do it.  We’re good savers and so the money of getting there wasn’t an issue.  We would be with friends so they would help with the logistics. Getting visas was way too complicated for a 7 day tourist visit but I’m glad we did it.  While we were there we saw all of the touristy things- the stuff you’re supposed to see.  The Great Wall, Tiananmen, the Forbidden City, etc.  My mom was coming to visit us in our country just a bit after we got back from China and I thought getting my mom some kind of tea would be just the thing- you know “All the tea in China.”  So one afternoon while we were roaming the city we went into a market.  We needed milk and fruit for our hotel room.  You can buy cherries in China, I was obsessed.  But I thought while I was there I would watch and see what other ladies were buying in the tea stalls and I would buy some of what they were buying.  A friend had already given me some pointers on how to buy tea in China.  1.  If you like the smell of it, you’ll probably like the taste of it.  2.  Bigger is better when it comes to tea leaves.  When the tea is all diced up, you’re probably getting second skimmings.  So with my pointers and my long held belief that if you find a woman you think you look like, sometimes you’ll shop like her too; I was ready to buy tea in China.  Well I went into a booth and started smelling.  I had pretty well settled on a leaf from my mom but the shop lady wanted me to sit and try to the flowers.  Chinese tea shops are full of flowers.  Lovely bins of dried flowers.   And I have no idea why.  So the lady heats up the kettle and begins putting flowers in a glass tea pot.  Then a lump of rock sugar.  Then she fills it.  And ooohhh… the flowers come to life and swirl and dance.  Instantly ensorcelled. So I’m sitting and somehow I’m chatting with this woman in my not Chinese and her not English and our points and signs.   And she warms the teeny cups and the tea swirls.  And she pours out a little cup for me and a little cup for her.  And we’re two ladies sipping a spring meadow together.  No kidding.  Jonathan comes around with two over tired kids and he doesn’t want to sip tea he wants to go.  But he sips tea and now Jonathan is sitting in the meadow with us and the stains on !’s dress are just cherries from a funny man in the market who filled her pockets and @ isn’t fidgety, he wants to play tea too.  And so I bought tea flowers and the lady went through the recipe with me 3 times, teaching me what I had just bought because the Chinese take their tea seriously and the lady didn’t want me to just buy tea, she wanted me to appreciate her passion.  So I learned my Chinese numbers and words for my tea.  She wanted me to buy the pot (which I’m sure was necessary for the complete meadow and for her profit margin) but my cheapness got the better of me.  I did end up buying a tea pot later in the airport with the extra bits of money we had in Yuan (and it was cheaper than her pot). 

While my mom was here we got out the tea pot and played tea on several occasions (not enough for my mom).  And my mom did it just right, something about those flowers dancing in the hot water and we were all schoolgirls.  Just giddy at playing tea.  The only problem with this tea pot is that as high as it takes you when you are watching the tea steep and pouring it into glasses, you really don’t want to let the tea pot be empty.  There is just a little tinge of regret when you realize that it’s time for playing tea to be over.  The flowers are finished for this go around.  The good news is that I bought a lot of tea flowers.  And so we have more times of play to come.  And I have a promise from my friends in China that they will buy me more tea flowers when I have need. 

Moral of the story: I need to remember to take my tea box down from the shelf and make a pot of flowers. 
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