22 June 2018 – Tonya and Larry told me they were invited to a Chinese tea drinking party with their friends and they would like me to join them. I said I would go with and would enjoy drinking tea with their friends. Today I have to start tying up loose ends around my brother’s house. I’m going to wash all my clothes. I want everything clean when I leave. I will be 5 or 6 days on the road before I get home so everything has to be cleaned before I leave. I have to look over his garage and clean out any oil, anti-freeze, wrenches, spare parts and oil drain pans that have accumulated since I arrived. The only problem I will have is with the anti-freeze. That’s a lot of dead weight.
I went thru my saddle bags and packed everything in tight. Everything has to be organized so it all fits. I went thru my top box and organized it. I put my torque wrench into the top box. There should be enough room in there for it. I started looking thru my bags. I need to get fresh water into all my water bottles. I’m going to be heading into the desert and I will need water. So, things are kind of shaping up. What I’m doing is nothing I haven’t done at least a million times before. It’s just when you stay in one spot for a week or more your belongings tend to get strewn around. I’m hearing that it’s nearing departure time for tea. I best pick up the pace some.
So, off we go to Jiangli’s home. We arrive and talk with Jiangli, Aida and Garrett. Jiangli tells us a meal is being prepared as we speak. We continue to socialize until Jiangli tells us dinner is served. We sat down to an excellent meal of Asian food and drink. We all ate our fill and then some. But the best is yet to come. We are about to be served tea.
I’m going to try to explain the formal art of drinking tea if you can believe that. I will try to be respectful because I truly don’t understand the customs and feeling of the Chinese Culture which is stacked in rich traditions. One of these traditions is the “The Art of Chinese Tea”. It goes something like this: it the unison / harmony of tea, water, utensils, preparation, environment and conversation to create the perfect memorable moment. A moment that can last for hours. It’s about the tea and tea friends. I’m sure all kinds of influences can accentuate the drinking of the best quality tea. I believe Jiangli has a business in China buying and selling tea. It was said the quality of the tea is measured by the age of the tree / bush the leaves are grown on, the soil, and the elevation the tea leaves were grown at. The better quality tea is grown at the higher elevations. What I picked up at the party was we started drinking tea from leaves that were grown on 300 year old trees / bushes.
Jiangli had the proper kettle and utensils to prepare and serve the tea. All were hand crafted, I think, in China. I don’t think they were porcelain but formed out of a softer stone which could be carved. Again, I’m only guessing. The tea leaves were large so they had to be pressed to get the tea out. All of this preparation of the tea is performed by hand which is part of the harmony of drinking tea. We drank small cups of tea for about an hour.
We then had the opportunity to drink tea from the leaves of the 800 year old trees / bushes. All the utensils had to be hand washed and prepared to brew the leaves of the 800 year old trees. No short cuts were tolerated to spoil the moment. We each had several cups which I had the honor of drinking. The reason I say that, is because drinking tea off an 800 year old tree / bush is like smoking a $100 Dollar cigar or drinking $50 shots of whiskey. It was said, that drinking tea from the leaves of the 800 year old tree / bush is reserved for only the wealthiest of Chinese society. So when I was able to drink some of that tea, I felt quite honored. Jiangli Lee is also an accomplished artist. He showed us some of his works. Just beautiful.
As we were leaving, he gave me a small round clear glass and a 5-inch round package of tea about 1 inch thick. The glass he gave me, he showed me how to make it ring off. I tried but never succeeded. Anyway, we thanked him, Aida and Garrett for their hospitality and went home. We all had a great time.