1. Heat the water.
2. Immerse the tea leaves.
3. Wait a couple of minutes.
4. Remove the leaves.
"We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out." - Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)
The drinking of tea began as a very simple experience. Preparing and drinking tea allowed space for our thoughts to be refreshed, expanded, more fully understood and to spill out into more fully formed ideas. Every once in awhile it feels good to get reacquainted with the simplicity of tea, to remove some of the clutter and be comfortable with the lack of distractions.
This is not always easy to do. And as a tea shop, it's not always easy for us to provide the support for simplifying tea because the numbers overwhelmingly work against it:
- The majority of adults in the U.S. drink coffee, not tea.
- Approximately 80% of the tea consumed in this country is for iced tea.
- The overwhelming majority of hot tea drinkers use tea bags.
- Flavored teas far outsell pure leaf teas
- Then, at the top of the mountain (or bottom of the valley depending on your perspective) are those who drink pure leaf, loose tea.
The challenge to purposefully enjoying a pure leaf loose tea to the fullest while embracing simplicity is that it requires a flexibility to change. Simple is not always faster, it may require spending more time with tea, it is not about convenience as is a brew-then-toss tea bag, and our flavor tastes need to adjust - a simple, lightly floral and grassy green tea is not going to be as intense as a strongly flavored green tea with added fruit or floral ingredients.
Unless we're really open to letting the "beautiful stuff" in, a simple cup of pure loose leaf tea is bound to disappoint. It can take longer to brew, seems more complicated, and in the ends brews a cup of tea whose flavor tastes weak, too subtle compared to what we usually drink. But if we stay with it and let a pure leaf tea experience work on us a little longer, the beautiful stuff begins to come out. You begin to appreciate the more nuanced flavors, you connect to where the tea came from and the hand that plucked the tea leaf for your enjoyment, you appreciate how the life of the tea began thousands of miles away just to be able to fill your cup.
Enjoy tea, enjoy the moment. Simply magic.
Everything else will still be there when you return to the daily grind.