Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Secret Life of Tea...

It is not uncommon that I find myself helping the baristas make beverages from time to time at the restaurant I work at. I got my start as a barista - making coffee, pulling espresso, pouring lemonade and teas. Today I was helping them out. While making the Jasmine Pearls tea that we get from the specialty tea purveyor called In Pursuit of Tea, I noticed the uncommonly floral and sweet fragrance wafting up from the cup.

This really isn't unusual. I've made probably thousands of cups of tea over the years, but for some reason, it struck me today. Something so mundane, that I've done over and over, became a gem of a moment that began rolling around in my subconscious.

The back of the container said that this particular tea comes from Fujian Province in China and that it is scented with jasmine blossoms. For the moment, this was a fine answer that sated my curiosity.

After my weekly (dare I say it, nightly) visit to the Dessert Truck), I began to think of the tea again. One of the characteristics is that upon immersion into hot water, the "pearls" of silvery green tea leaves unfurl. But this only provoked more questions.

So, like any good modern person, I Googled it.

What I found out made my passing moment even more special. I discovered that during spring each leaf is hand-picked 7,756 (or so) miles away. The individual leaves are hand rolled and stored till the summer-blooming jasmine tree (reported to have been brought from the Persian Gulf in the 3rd Century) gives forth its fragile blossoms. The pearls are then infused with the scent of the jasmine flowers in a complex drying system.

Today it dawned upon me that in my hand was the culmination of countless spring days, hundreds of years, thousands of miles, the labors of several lifetimes, and that all of this was a secret revealed only to those willing to take notice.


Jean Katherine Baldridge said...

this is very magical and beautifully writen...a beautiful story. Thank you.
we used to know a girl named Jasmine...

Andrew Thornton said...

Thanks for your kind words, Jean!