~ This Evening ~
As I was winding down my day, I decided I wanted some Ti Kuan Yin. I loaded a very generous amount of the dry tea into my favorite gaiwan, boiled some water, and went about preparing the tea.
After washing the leaves, I performed my first infusion. As time went by, I felt myself relaxing into the comfort that preparing tea brings me. And then it happened.
I picked up the gaiwan, and poured the hot tea into a narrow cup without having any of the hot liquor burn my hand and without spilling a single drop.
I’m sure to most people this would not seem like anything note worthy, but to me it is.
~ Why? ~
The first time I tried to make tea in a gaiwan, I burned myself and broke the gaiwan I was using. Basically, the first time I attempted to use a gaiwan was a complete and total disaster. Seriously. I sucked at making tea in a gaiwan! And I don’t mean I kind of sucked, I mean I really sucked.
Of course, after that failed first attempt, I was frustrated. Really frustrated, in fact. So frustrated, that I bought another gaiwan, watched lots of YouTube videos showing people doing gongfu cha, and scoured the internet for information on how to properly handle gaiwans.
Another side effect of my first failed attempt with a gaiwan was that whenever I made tea I was filled with self doubt, and I tried to compensate for this by over-thinking everything little thing I did. I obsessed over water temperature, the amount of leaves I was using, steep times, and pours. As I’m sure you can imagine, the tea that I made when I was in negative state of mind was not very good.
Over time, it became apparent that I was approaching tea the same way that I use to approach math homework, which is to say I realized that I was being an idiot. With the help of Mei, Dan, and some other more experienced people in the tea community, I learned to approach tea as something that was fun, in the same way that kids approach new games. I mellowed out, and started to -literally- play with tea. I would screw around with different water temps, and steep times. I would use crazy amounts of leaves in my gaiwan or Yixing teapot…
This is when tea stopped being something I was interested in, and became something that I loved.
~ Which Brings Me to Today ~
Today I can use a gaiwan with out looking like a total fool.
Learning to make tea has helped me not take myself oh–so-seriously, and as a result I feel more relaxed, more confident, and much more happy.
~ End Notes ~
- If / when you screw up using a gaiwan don’t worry about it.
- Frustration is normal when you’re learning, but if you keep at it you will find your own tea mojo.
- Remember: tea is something that you should have fun with.