Sarah Rose, the author of “For All the Tea in China” (Pic: www.sarahrose.com)
Lu Yu, the “Sage of Tea” as the Chinese call him, would have been furious to see me dangle two tea bags in hot water at 4 or 5 in the morning with the least amount of enthusiasm.
I prefer my brew strong and dark. That requires some careful work.The only element of skill, if I can all it that without offending the tea purists, that comes into play in this otherwise inelegant ritual is when I have to squeeze the two soggy bags. I put them on a spoon and use the tiny thread to wrap the bag around it. And then wrap the thread one more time around the bag to squeeze the last drops of the brew. Those are the darkest. (Pardon me for making it sound crassly erotic.) That accomplished my interest in the fine art of tea making ends for the day.
I knew that there was much much more to tea than what I do every morning. Just how much more can be found out in the new book “For All The Tea in China” by Sarah Rose. The book is garnering some strong critical notices around the world. From the looks of it, it has the potential to become a major movie in the not so distant future.
Coming back to just how much Lu Yu (733 CE-804 CE) thought of tea can be found in this ode to the beverage and the plant. Here is what the best tea must have as ordained by the Sage of Tea.
The creases like the leather boots of Tartar horsemen,
Curl like the dewlap of a mighty bullock,
Unfold like a mist rising out of a ravine,
Gleam like a lake touched by a zephyr,
And be wet and soft like
Earth newly swept by rain.
You have to be somewhat delusional (I mean it in the best possible way) to see all these fantastic images in a leaf. All that I see is two tea bags which have been mauled by an artless journalist.