Friday, July 3, 2009

A Mindful Moment

What constitutes a perfect cup of tea? Is this a quixotic quest? I ask myself these questions as I brew a pot of sencha, a first-flush from this spring harvest. The tea arrived in the mail several days ago in a nondescript package belying the treasure inside. I tore open the trim cardboard box and pulled from it the small bag bearing the sencha. I imagined the tea's provenance: lush fields of tea bushes on verdant hillsides, dewy with mists. Weeks later, the harvested leaves are nestled in a tea canister in my tea cabinet, their final home.
I scoop two spoonfuls of the sencha into a pot of hot water - almost tepid as not to scorch the delicate needle-shaped leaves. My finger had rested comfortably in the water for a few minutes and gave its verdict: the water could now receive the leaves safely. A mere minute later, the tea is ready. The steeped leaves amass like cooked spinach along the sides of the glass infuser inside the pot; the liquor, a beautiful light green. I slowly pour the tea into our cups at the kitchen table. I see stray bits of the leaves speckle the bottom of my cup. I hold the warm cup in my hands and breathe in the aroma. Vegetal -wonderfully so- characteristically sencha-natured. I sip expectantly. The taste is full-flavored, sweetly laden with umami and barely astringent. E sips from his a cup, across the table, and we sit together this morning, for awhile. With each moment attended, perfection seems not so quixotic after all.

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