As I am writing, ominous-looking rain clouds covered the sky, on the cusp of downpour. A few moments later, the heavens opened and the pitter patter of heavy rain descended onto the rolling hills of Hampstead. The symphony of heavy droplets battering the hilly pavements and pounding the window of the cafe stirred a moment of reflection within me. Sitting here with my warm cup of Jasmine tea, I do think there is something contemplative about torrential summer rain.
With my legs outstretched underneath the wooden bench table, I closed my eyes and sipped the tea in front of me. As the aroma of the jasmine wafted over me, I pondered… Isn’t life like a cup of tea? Tea has not the intensity of wine nor coffee, nor the insipid taste of water. Unlike knocking back an espresso by the coffee bar, the character of tea requires that you take your time to appreciate and enjoy it. Doing so, you take in what is around you and within you.
Initially, when you make your first brew of tea, the taste is rich with its full burst of flavour. Especially with tea that is traditionally hand-rolled, a big portion of the tea leaves unfurl themselves, but not all completely. The second brew of the same tea brings out more nuanced notes of the tea leaves. With slightly less concentrated flavours on the palette, you take a moment to focus on the lingering character of the tea.
When we are young, vigour and fervour take over; As we experience gradual ups and downs further in life, the vigour may wear away little by little, nonetheless, character, experience and confidence built over the years metaphorically speaking are akin to the less intense but lingering character on the palette of a tea on its second brew. The complexity of a tea is showcased as you continually sip and appreciate it. Similarly, nuances in our 'self' grow over time.
It is difficult to rush tea. In haste, we burn our mouths and cannot acquire its full taste. In life as in tea, savour it, delight in it. Wisdom is gained as we taste and feel the uniqueness of each tea. A tea leaf may look unassuming - certainly how the tradition of tea has endured for more than 4,000 years since the Chinese Emperor, Shenong chanced upon tea leaves falling into his cup of hot water, reflects its importance as a mainstay in our daily lives. So, no matter how busy life gets, I will take a moment to appreciate tea for it is a constant in our ever-changing world.