The other day, I had the opportunity to visit Taiwan. My experiences there were not exactly what I had expected of the ‘land of teas’. While in Taipei, I talked to some people in their 20s and 30s.
“Do you drink tea?”
“Yes, we do.”
“Brewed from tea leaves?”
“My father still has a teapot and set of teacups, and often invites the neighbors around for tea, but people of my generation usually buy tea at tea stands in town. It’s much easier.”
As I listened, my mind flashed back to a scene typical of my daily life.
I take out the kettle and boil water to make tea. After a while, steam starts to rise and I hear the kettle begin to hiss. I add tea leaves to the pot and pour in hot water. As I pour tea into my teacup, a delicious aroma rises. Afterwards, I empty the kettle, remove the lid and peer in through the steam, satisfied with the care I’ve taken for my iron kettle.
My mind sometimes wanders back to my childhood, drinking tea with my family after dinner.
Nowadays, even in Japan, teas are more often found in plastic bottles. They are a quick, easy and convenient alternative to water; something to simply quench your thirst. The sight of drinking slightly bitter tea from teacups with your family, a custom that has lasted for generations, seems on the brink of being lost. This makes me a little sad. I don’t want families to lose the custom of pouring tea from teapots into individual cups.
We can feel the love, culture and customs of our ancestors through the tools we use, and with a little effort, we experience something special from the smells, sounds, weight, temperature… with all of our senses. I hope this ‘something’ is preserved in our daily lives.