Monday March 24, 2008 | 4 comments
The three boys in front of me looked unwell. One had glassy eyes, and his mouth was set in what can only be called a grimace. On the other side, the lad kept blinking and licking his lips, as if they were dry. The boy in the middle, Eliot, was silent as a mountain, yet every muscle in face was screaming “YUCK!” I tried to determine whether they looked guilty. Then I noticed that each had a full teacup in front of them. I asked what was the matter.
“I decided to follow your example.” My spirits plummeted at the possibilities. “I tried to make tea -” I breathed a sigh of relief.
“You screwed up!” Dry lips finally found his parched voice.
“No. Yes. I guess. I thought I was doing what you always do -“
“What kind of tea?”
“The matcha genmaicha, you know, with the rice?” I had been out of the room for ten minutes. It was an after school debate practice; the kids were, when I left, busily researching a topic regarding presidential primaries and democratic values. I bounded to the teapot. “Take the strainer out?” It was above the top of the brew left in the pot. The tea was packed in tight and expanded to above the rim. I looked carefully at the rice and stems. Besides forgetting the expansion of the tea, something was wrong.
“Time the steeping?” A debate coach’s classroom is littered with stopwatches, among other things. The answer was affirmative. I sniffed the strainer. Cooked. I checked the Zojirushi: 208 degrees.
“I know what’s wrong, guys.” The debate practice shifted from primaries to discussion of temperature and tea; from there back to differences in teas; back from there to processes . . . guided, of course, by the information to be found on T Ching’s archives. Unfortunately, we had to throw out the cooked tea. We made a new pot with measured tea steeped at the proper temperature and the three watched my every move. We sipped together.
The three boys in front of me looked well.