childI’m a country boy.  My father was a farmer, although he also owned a building materials business until he retired.  I lived in the country for 19 years.  In my experience, farmers are hospitable, straight forward, and pleasant to be around.  Every guest is welcomed with tea.  Every family keeps a tea set ready for instant use.  My family always chose Ti Kuan Yin.  My grandfather drank a tea that I thought was bitter; even though it was a Ti Kuan Yin, it was not the best quality.  We were poor and could not afford the best, but we still always chose some type of Ti Kuan Yin.  Please take my comments on the quality of tea in proper perspective.  My wonderfully pleasant experiences were not in any way diminished by the tea.  The only reason I mention it is because this is a forum of fine tea lovers.  Even today, with my well-developed palate, the pleasant experience of visiting with rural people is not in any way mitigated by their choice of tea.

Every summer night, my grandfather would ask me to scratch his back and give me five cents for every 1000 scratches.  We slept in the yard under the moon and the stars, breathing the wonderful country air.  The adults talked as they drank bad tea.  It is difficult to convey the peacefulness and simple pleasures of those times.

Last year my friend, Renco, from Holland, visited.  Naturally, we welcomed him with a cup of tea.  How else?  In China, when one goes to a wedding, the bride and groom make a cup of tea for every guest.  No one leaves until they have drunk the tea.  Often in front of small stores in the country, you will see a tea set on a small table. Maybe the cups are not as clean as you might like, but the hospitality is all anyone could ask for.

templeFrequently, I see a farmer working and he will take a break to rest and drink a cup of tea.  Tea is not just our tradition, it is an integral part of our lives.

Our village is surrounded by mountains.  There are wonderful places in the mountains.  Every time I go back home, I go see some of the interesting places, always guided by my father.  During his two years of retirement, he has discovered all the secrets of the mountains and knows all the best places.  Wherever we go, we find old men drinking tea.  They always invite us to join them.  While their tea may or may not be excellent, their company and information are a delight.  Visiting, exploring, drinking tea, and spending time with my father.  The mountains around our village are indeed wonderful.

I miss my grandfather so much.

P.S. Thanks, Joel, for your help.