Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Tag: tea

Thoughts on a Cup of Tea

     Stop.

     Just for a minute there.

     It’s not that you’re doing it wrong. I don’t really think there is a wrong way to do it. But maybe there is another way. A way that will be better for you.

     First, don’t pour the water while it’s boiling. Let it cool down a bit first. Just a minute. It’ll still be hot. And the taste will come out better.

     While you’re waiting, think about something lovely in the room you’re in. Smile at it.

     Now pour.

     Watch it for a bit. See the colour seep from the bag and stain the water. What did you use? Black? Green? Herbal? Try green. It’s good for you and, if you make it the way I do, it’s not even a little bitter and tastes like something divine.

     How long are you going to let it steep? Try steeping for three minutes or less. It won’t be as strong, but it won’t be bitter, either. That’s the best kind. It’s not strong, but it’s not afraid of being weak, either.

     Are you just going to drink it? Just like that?

     Try sitting on the floor. Cross your legs. Put your cup in front of you. Is your room quiet? Can it be made quiet? Can it be made still? Just for a minute. Take your cup in two hands. I know you can lift it with one, but two is better. If you only use one, you’ll be tempted to multitask. And multitasking does not lead to peace.

     Bring the cup to your mouth, but don’t drink yet. Don’t smell it, either. Rather, breathe it. Slowly. Breathe it again. Can you taste it already? Can you feel it’s warmth in your chest? Nice, isn’t it? Close your eyes and breathe it for a minute.

     Put it to your lips, and take a sip.

     Smile.

     That’s how to have a cup of tea.

From Dark to Grey

     It was a dark and stormy, bright sunny day. Or week. Or something like that. Anyway, it was rough. Ruth was leaving earlier than we had planned. I wasn’t sleeping well. Things were piling on. So I slowly walking into a dark place. Ever been there? Not fun.
     Then she left. Got darker. Hadn’t written a thing in days. Maybe a week, even.
     But it’s getting brighter today.
     I took the bus down to Danforth. Walked for hours, carrying my leather case with my notebook and computer. Wonderful day for walking. Too cool to stand still. Once I got into a good rhythm my body warmed itself up. I passed a church that was having a hamburger cookout. They invited me in. It was nice. I declined, mostly because I didn’t want to create an awkward situation because they had nothing a vegetarian could eat. But I hugged the guy and thanked him for his invitation. It made him smile. That made me smile.
     I kept going. Crossed the road. Started walking the other way. Came across a vegetarian restaurant I hadn’t seen before called Teatree Cafe. Had a grilled brie sandwich with honey baked apples on oatmeal bread and a potato oatmeal soup. Children played and laughed behind me, talking about their Sunday School class. It was good. My body thanked me for the sandwich. I started feeling strong and I smiled again.
     I left and kept walking. Found my way to the Tsaa Tea Shop. I forget what kind of tea I ordered. Something that had to do with eyebrows (seriously). I sat in my place and opened my computer. Found the section I was supposed to be working on. Drank a cup of tea while staring at it.
     My throat was wet and my insides were comfortable. But my mind and heart still wanted to throw the computer away and join a circus. I poured myself another cup of tea.
     I was feeling more positive. The other customers started to fade and I reached down to my characters to see if they were still alive. They were, it turned out. I poured myself another cup of tea.
     I dared to put my fingers to the keyboard. They moved. Slowly at first. Awkwardly. With horrid spelling. But that wasn’t a problem. I’m a worse speller than my mother-in-law. And she doesn’t even speak English. I poured myself another cup of tea.
     I was rolling, suddenly. It started to work. It started to make sense. It was fun and real again. I poured myself another cup of tea.
     I stopped typing. Looked at the wordcount. Smiled to myself and closed the computer. I finished the tea and stared out into the street.
     I left with a grin. I’m all alone, still. But not really. I have love in my life. The love of an orchestra. And a guy was giving out free samples of Stella Artois on the way back. And I know how to make killer tea.
     On the bus going home, I read this line from Lotung, the Tang poet, concerning drinking tea:

The first cup moistens my lips and throat,
The second cup breaks my loneliness,
The third cup searches my barren entrail
but to find therein some five thousand
volumes of odd ideographs.
The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration,—
All the wrong of life passes away through my
pores.
At the fifth cup I am purified;
The sixth cup calls me to the realms of
immortals.
The seventh cup—ah, but I
could take no more! I only feel
the breath of cool wind that rises
in my sleeves.
Where is Horaisan?
Let me ride on this sweet breeze
And waft away thither.

     All in all, it’s been a good day.