014: Tea for Thought.
I was reading this post on Tea by friend J.P. and it reminded me that I haven't just been doing bicycle related stuff while I've been traveling. Sometimes I get caught up in the cycling end of things as far as this website goes and I forget that I actually do other stuff worth mentioning. Ok, maybe not really worth mentioning, but I do other stuff besides think about bikes.
I really like food, for instance, and almost more than that, I enjoy taking photos of food and the dining experience.
Well, Jen's post got me thinking about Tea as well and the interesting encounters that I had with it in the last few weeks. The first was a couple weeks ago at a Dim Sum restaurant in London and the other was the past few days when I was deathly ill and drinking it like it was going out of style. Ok, I wasn't deathly ill, just a little under the weather, but its so much more dramatic if you say "deathly ill," I've found.
Was led through the underground network of tunnels called "the Tube" to Ping-Pong, a nice little tea house and dim-sum restaurant in London's SoHo district that boasts "Little steamed parcels of deliciousness." How can you go wrong with a tag line like that? The food was amazing, but what struck me more were the "flowering pearls" of tea that we ordered. I haven't been privy to this style of tea before and my mind was almost entirely blown as I sat there watching the "pearl" of tea literally unfold, or blossom in front of me.
The tea came to the table looking like a tightly rolled ball of field grass. Which, I guess in a way, it is. Then when hot water is poured over the "pearl" it starts to unwind itself. Almost creepily unraveling as you sit and stare. Slowly moving through the steaming water. There were a few levels to this unraveling as well, the first opened to reveal a bright pink blossom, which then opened further with a brilliant white flower at the top. At this point, being the delicate tea lover that I am, I jammed the pearl down to the bottom of the glass, hoping something really spectacular would happen. It didn't, but it looked nice.
Up until this point I'd thought of tea in a few very different ways:
1) as something that my mother and grandmother would give me when I couldn't sleep, usually in the vein of "Sleepytime Tea" or "Lemon Zest" or something to that effect.
2) the dark, smoky teas that Mr. P. Rubijono introduced me to when I started racing cyclocross "to keep you healthy and in the sporting lifestyle." Perfect post race or just in from a cold training ride.
3) as something you order at a coffee shop to either
a) look smarter than you are, or
b) when you've just had too much coffee for one day
4) as a Russian Tea Embrocation. Hint: its near the bottom, and I've used it, its near amazing.
What I didn't realize is that there is a whole world of Tea out there. And this world involves not only a bizarre mixture of flavors for your palate, but something for most of your senses...apparently including sight as well.
Cheers to you, Tea,