“So I must rise at early dawn, as busy as can be, to get my daily labor done, and pluck the leafy tea.”
– Le Yih, Ballad of the Tea Pickers, Early Ch’ing Dynasty, 1644
This morning I am welcoming the month of November with a cup of Ruan Zhi Thai Oolong. Tea cultivation and production in the high mountains of Thailand was started and established in the 1980s by Chinese immigrants. What began as small economic activity has grown to a strong community of independent tea gardens.You can read more about the story of the arrival of tea in Thailand in this article.
The tea is plucked from Taiwanese bushes that were brought over for Oolong tea production and the whole leaves are carefully rolled in the tradition of Taiwan tea crafting. Steeping for 3 minutes in 190 degree water, the leaf gently unfurls to reveal itself beautifully intact. As I lifted the lid of my teapot, I inhaled the delicate scent of lilacs and orchids. The tea liquor is golden yellow with exotic flavor notes of spicy flowers. It reminds me of a Formosa Jade Oolong. You can read my review of that tea here.
I was poking around in my cupboard this morning and found this simply designed teabowl that I completely forgot I had. I purchased it last year at the Kaji Aso studio in Boston when I attended the Japanese Tea ceremony. The clay is dark brown with white speckles and the glaze looks like it has been applied with a sponge in washes of white, yellow and brown. At the bottom of my bowl lies a shape that one moment looks like a fish and the next moment a leaf. I find myself drawn more and more to bowls and pots of simple Asian design with Wabi Sabi elements of perfection in imperfection.
For the first time in weeks, I have a weekend that is stretched before me with no plans at all. Possibilities…
Have you still got your space?
your soul, your own and necessary place
where your own voices may speak to you,
you alone, where you may dream.
Oh, hold onto it, don’t let it go.