Destination: …where?

How do you know when the tea is ready?

This question is always on my mind as I shadow tea master, Fu Chen. Everything she does, I mirror. She observes the freshly picked leaves and I look and look. She smells the withered leaves, telling me to remember this scent, and I inhale until I am nearly hyperventilating. She presses the dried leaves and feels for water content, and  I let the freshly roasted tea fall through my fingers like pebbles. At this point, I know the steps, but I am a long long way from knowing the magic.

At every juncture, we are tasting and tasting. It becomes clear that the tea picked at 6am tastes differently from the tea picked at 12 noon. Sunshine and mist really do have flavor profiles! Tea tasting for 48 hours straight (and sometimes longer) is all part of the job of tea-making.

Looks like spinach. Tastes like AWESOME!

1 o’clock ~ 2 o’clock ~ 3 o’clock ~ 4

I still can’t figure out when the tea is DONE. The tea tastes better and better as the process moves long, but when is it finished? It seems so mysterious and nothing like baking a cake. There is no way to prick it with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean and ready. Fu Chen explains to me:

It’s like driving a car. You focus on where you are going, and when you get to your destination, you stop. If you don’t know where you are going, you will miss it. It’s that simple. 

Such amazing words!  

I saw a waterfall during one of my ambling walks in the mountains of Taiwan, and I wanted to photograph it the next time I passed by. However, every time I was out walking around, I would get distracted and forget to take the picture. Then I’d remind myself, “On the way back. I will take the photo.” Like some sort of joke, the waterfall kept eluding me. I never got the snap that I wanted, but that was because during all those walks, I never had the waterfall as my destination. I wasn’t focused. There was so much beauty around, and I’d veer off to take a picture of something like this snail:

Life is full of random beauty, and we should always stop to appreciate it. However, knowing your destination makes all the difference.

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Catesby Bernstein December 15, 2016 / 2:22 pm

    Interesting, very interesting. I’ve always said that being goal-oriented was difficult for me, and this essay reflects that beautifully. It’s also helped me see the value of having goals in a new, less burdensome way.

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