Kung Fu Tea

Love at first sight doesn’t ring particularly true to me – things get slightly trickier than that in real life. But I can tell whether a movie or a book is my cup of tea from the very beginning. Just like good dreams tend to get sidetracked before you come to the better parts, there are too many good books I have failed to finish despite that initial crush. However, some opening lines stay with me longer than the rest.

Tale of Two Cities has the opening line for an epic – “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

Anna Karenina has the most echoing line we can relate to, one way or the other – “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

The one in Pride and Prejudice is interesting too – “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Instantly you can sense the eager buzz of whispers in the room.

While the Bible has the perfect opening – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” After getting a leather-bound hardcopy from Walmart, I have yet to go beyond the first few pages about all the begetting of mankind, but the flavor of that first sentence lingers on ever since I read it. I’m not a drinker, a teeny bit of alcohol would get me flushed all the way to the ears, so I don’t know exactly what “dry finish” means, but I imagine it must taste like what the Bible’s first sentence sounds to me.

Although for the Bible it is not a finish; it is the creation of a whole universe, and the beginning of all turmoil and unrest.

It’s hard to tell how this inner penchant works. But you know something speaks to you or not when you see it. Korean male stars under 30s are good-looking and popular in China, but their looks don’t seem effective to me – something about it just too smooth, I prefer texture a bit rough. Shia LaBeouf is sexy, but he is not half as sexy as Hugh Grant – yes, older male could be like Wagyu prime rib, but only if you aged gracefully. No one has aged more gracefully than Colin Firth, he gives off such a subtle melancholy that somehow works deeper and just proper. But you don’t have to be proper to be a magnet – Louis C.K. might not be the most decent man on the planet according to Me Too rally, but I just wish his authenticity could bounce back soon, otherwise it would be too much a cost for even a decent cause.

So unreasonable yet so unmistakable isn’t it, this innate knowledge you have about everything. As if there’s some built-in measure invisible but almost palpable, working somewhere in you all the time, helping you determine how much of something is too little or too much for you.

I’m a better cook when I let go of recipe, and just listen to my inkling and instinct. A recipe tends to make things too salty or too sweet, while my inner galaxy buds are much more sensitive when it comes to all delicate spots – the adequate amount for an ingredient, the right temperature as well as the good timing … All I have to do, is just follow my gut feeling.

The way I make tea at home is called 功夫茶 (Gong Fu tea), or some may call it Kung Fu tea, meaning the tea is made with special effort. In order to bring out the best flavor, you have to give it tender care. Once done right, the tea could taste like a divine song from the heaven to the soul.

First, you select good quality Oolong tea, and avoid using water too hard loaded with excessive minerals, or too soft that might render a taste too flat. The best choice of water would be pure creek from deep mountains, uncontaminated by antiseptic or pollutants. In everyday life we most likely have to settle for the second best – bottled spring water or filtered tap flow.

The ideal temperature to brew Kung Fu tea is 185°F, right before the full boil, where the bubbles are about 3mm in diameter, called “crab eyes”. You use the near-boil to warm the teapot and teacups, and rinse the tea leaves, then you steep it for a minute or two, before pouring evenly into the cups in circular motion, giving each cup the same fullness of flavor.

After breathing in the aroma, you drink it while it’s brisk hot. The typical teacup holds just about 0.17 fluid oz, but you don’t gulp it down at once. Instead you savor it in three little sips, allowing the fragrance to linger around the tongue tip, all the way down to throat deep …

There is a wide variety of Oolong tea, each with an individual flavor defined by its origin, tree cultivar, harvest season, oxidation degree … Even if you follow all the tea-making steps, you have yet to exercise a fine-tuned inner sense, to gauge the perfect steeping time for different breeds, just so to bring out the best savor in a tea.

I would say, human relationship is as delicate a matter as brewing Kung Fu tea. Have you ever had such sorrow, watching something started out pristine going astray? Some people might appear to be your cup of tea at first sight, yet before long that magic coating started peeling off, and the rusty undercolor starting to surface … We thought we love the flotillas of humanity, but do we really love anything other than our own specific fantasy?

I know Zen koans are supposed to be mused upon without too much thoughts, but I just love the way it conjures up ideas about human nature of sorts –

A Zen master asked a carpenter to help hang a flower basket on a column. After directing the carpenter to place it a little higher or lower, a little to the right or left, he decided on the right spot and said, “That’s the place.” To test the master, the carpenter marked the spot but then pretended to have lost it. “Was it here? Or there?” the carpenter pointed to various places and asked. However, so accurate was the master’s sense of proportion, he didn’t approve of anywhere until the carpenter returned to the exact right spot.

Deep down we all have the same level of accuracy. We know exactly what we want. You could never overlook that exact right spot where your peculiar interest is located. This enduring desire everyone carries within, is like a piece of cork floating up to the top, even if you can manage to press it down for a moment, it will bounce right back every time you relax the hand.

Just like the grass in a backyard, it may look bleak and indifferent this time around, but as soon as it senses something in the air, remotely smelling like spring, instantly it would thrive like never before.

Such toil and unrest, most likely it will persist until the final extinction of matter. There is nothing you could do about it, except waiting for your turn to outgrow it. Although it might help, if I always reserve some inner space for Kung Fu tea.

IMG_E4322 (7)2

 

14 Comments

  1. I like your line about being a better cook when letting go of the recipe. Such is true for many aspects of life 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Somehow I knew you would like it. I may even bet you are a good cook🦒

      Like

      1. 🙂 Well, I’d like to think so

        Like

        1. And good at many other aspects too … I forgot to add 🐊🐱

          Like

          1. Thanks (blush) ❤

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Everyone types ‘lol’ but I genuinely laughed, loudly and openly at the passage describing the opening line of the bible as a ‘dry finish’. That was a true zinger. Anyhow, aside from that, I enjoy the way your writing appears to meander from one thought to another, but it is in fact all tied together with complete clarity. I also did not realize I could be so enthralled by someone describing the process of making tea, but everything was so precise and controlled, you make it sound sublime.
    And then the last lines, turning to ‘the final extinction of matter’… I don’t know why but this makes me smile. Staving off an existential crisis with a cup of tea is something I’ve done myself from time to time. Great writing as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ‘lol’ is not my thing either, ‘LOL’ might be better, but I love your type of Loud and Open Laugh the best🦄 It has made my day, even though it is only the beginning of a day … As unconfident as I am about my ability to precisely convey an obscure idea of some sort, your response took me off guard – I didn’t expect my wordplay to be seen through by someone with such a knowing smile. It’s kind of like when you put on some bizarre costume in front of the mirror thinking no one’s in the room, then suddenly you hear someone clapping his hands laughing out loud. It induces a little squirm at first, but subsequently there is nice and warm tingling, then we can foresee this inner smile will be rippling as I meander from one thought to another during the day … I am happy you like the tea, clink clink 🐞

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🙂 I felt much the same way a while back when I started taking my writing more seriously and actively seeking readers… It takes time to adjust to knowing there’s someone, somewhere in the world, reading your words to themselves and… well, who knows. It boggles the mind if you think about it too much.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I know exactly what you mean. For me the fun is all about the wordplay and nothing else. The key to have fun in wordplay is not to take anything seriously literally 🐸

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Timothy Price

    Other great openings: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1. “He knew at once it was a human bone, when he took it from the baby who was sitting on the floor chewing it.” Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indrisason. “King Gylfi ruled the land that men now call Sweden. It is told of him that he gave to a wandering woman, in return for her merry-making, a plow-land in his realm, as much as four oxen might turn up in a day and a night.” Gylfaginning: The Beguiling of Gylify. Gylfaginning, as I commented on one of Holly’s posts last night, has a great creation story with a primordial cow and Odin taking over the heaven’s and the earth.

    I would recommend skipping all the begats and genealogy in the Old Testament and get into the stories and Psalms. The New Testament is interesting. Dostoyevski’s “Grand Inquisitor” in The Brothers Karamazov is a fantastic interpretation of the temptations of Christ (Matthew 4) and free will. Excellent post and great instructions for making Kung Fu Tea. I drink coffee more than tea, but I can enjoy a cup of tea. Blue kitten has made the best of a nice cup of Kung Fu Tea. Beautifully drawn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will do just that by skipping the begats in Old Testament and getting into the rest. Actually I wasn’t being accurate with my story – other than buying a Bible I also attended a Bible study in my town, and the Psalms is now covered with my handwritten pronunciations for words I didn’t know how to pronounce, as we have to take turns to read it out 🐏

      I have yet to get into the New Testament. Free will is something I often wonder about. Maybe I will write something about it one day. Word play is my favorite game, even though I am not awfully good at it. I am happy you got the gist of all my nonsense 🐛

      Liked by 1 person

  4. cat seems satisfied with his tea. His inner galaxy buds seem sated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You must be a genius. Your cunning words always bring about a little inner laugh. That’s why the cat looks sated.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s