Slowing down with tea
I loved watching ‘Teahouse of the August Moon’. The elaborate ritual of tea drinking. The careful planning of the tea house. The delicate tea cups, as pretty as the conversation they inspire.There is something so whimsical about sitting and drinking tea in a tea room. With the sound of water somewhere in the background. The movie was an absolute treat to watch and I recommend it.
What I find very interesting is how as a society, we seem to use drink to slow time. Whether it be black or green tea, a hot cup of filter coffee, wine, or simply a glass of sweet lassi while sitting on the footpath.Liquid seems to slowly stretch time. And I am not sure why. Maybe, time has become more unyielding than it used to be. And once in a while needs to borrow some fluidity from a glass of colored liquid.
I have always been one to slowly eat food but gulp down drinks. I think this happened because I used to hate drinking my daily glass of milk as a kid, and so learnt to drink it as quickly as I could. I do love the idea of slowly nursing a glass of wine. But I am not much of a wine-drinker. I have never liked tea- especially the milky sugary Indian variety. I remember, my first taste of tea, which probably has a lot to do with that. We were on a class trip in middle school and stopped at one of those dingy wayside hotels. I ordered a cup of chai. It was watery and weak-bodied and I decided, when I was 11 that tea just wasn’t my kind of drink. On the way back I ordered coffee and decided then and there,that this is what I was going to drink when I ‘grew up’. And so my fate was decided by a 11 year old, whose thought process was often strange in retrospect. I never drank tea much, after that.
Coffee and I have a tumultous relationship. I love the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. I started drinking coffee to keep awake during my high school board exams. The coffee would be set beside me- piping hot. I would burn my lip with the first sip. Once bitten, twice shy- I would let several minutes pass before even attempting another sip. By the time I actually remembered that there was something waiting to wake me up, two possible things would have occurred. One, a layer of cream would have formed on the coffee, in which case I would either throw the coffee or, strain it and then gulp it down, lest another layer of cream form. Two, the coffee would have gotten cold, and I would gulp it down before the layer of cream could form. So you see, I have an unfortunate history of gulping drinks which strongly re-asserts the authority of time.
After coming to the U.S, I fell in love with coffee shops. But American coffee loves me not. A relationship with it comes with its own set of preconditions: no coffee without food (stomach feels strange), not more than 5-6 sips of coffee (too much nervous energy) and so on.
Yet, the thought of sitting on a porch/balcony and sipping chai/filter coffee, while watching the sunrise, is incredibly romantic. Maybe I should just brew a cup of the jasmine green tea that has been languishing in my cupboard. A perfumed tea still tempts me. Maybe I will try. Tomorrow.