Every tea event is unique in its own way – the hundreds of variables concerning water, leaves, people and the tea drinking environment could never be replicated.
Having said that, some are so alike that over time they blend and merge together, and it becomes hard to separate one individual session from another similar one. How many times have I sipped Silver Needle while gazing out to sea on a sunny afternoon? A hundred? Two hundred?
Some, however, are so special that they will live on in memory forever, as sharp and clear as though they were experienced mere minutes before.
This was one such tea time.
It was only the second day of our holiday, and a near perfect summer evening.
We had entered that eerie pocket of calm that exists between land and sea breezes. The pines, birches, oaks and spruce were all still and silent as statues.
A half hour earlier, we had barbecued hamburgers, and the coals still had a good glow and plenty of heat to give, and I thought it would be a shame not to put them to good use, so I filled up my Trangia kettle and placed it on the grill over the charcoal.
I dropped a few teaspoons of loose leaf shou Pu-erh into a tea filter bag and prepared the teaware as the water slowly came up to a boil. I was in no hurry – the sun was slowly dropping behind us giving forest shade and early evening cool while bathing the headland over the bay in liquid gold. The cat was entertaining us chasing dragonflies and crickets.
The last few yachts of the day were heading back to the tranquillity of the guest harbour.
High above, cormorants and gulls headed home to roost, gently calling out to each other, black, white and grey sky-ships, effortlessly sculling over a background of faultless blue.
After about 20 minutes or so, the kettle boiled. I warmed the pot and cup, and steeped the tea.
I’ve drunk that particular tea countless times over the years, but that night, when its flavour characteristics were supplemented by the scents of forest, sea air and hot granite, it was transformed from a workaday beverage into something extraordinary, an experience never to be forgotten.
Pure tea magick.