teapotsTea – an ancient custom interwoven with daily life – can hold an intimate place in one’s life.  For many, this beverage is not only the first of our many daily rituals, but also the last.  Because tea is so entwined in our lives, it not only becomes a personal, daily ritual, but also a communal one.  This may not be the case for the occasional tea drinker, but I have found that tea can accompany you and your friends through the joy of good news as well as through the pains and sorrows of life.

Some of the joys I have shared have not only been time and stories created with friends, but also tangible gifts.  One such gift came from a customer, one who also shared a passion for Japanese tea.  With him, I spent hours talking of the many nuances of a single infusion of tea, the care taken by farmers tending the leaves, and the knowledge and passion put forth to process such a treasure.  He shared with me a poem by Baisao:

I’ve opened shop this time
On the banks of the Kamo.
Customers, sitting idly,
Forget host and guest.
They drink a cup of tea,
Their long sleep is over;
Awake they realize
They’re the same as before.

It is with this poem in mind that I drink tea from my beautiful teapots and cups given to me as gifts.  I asked a dear friend whose friendship was created over tea where I could find a yixing with the capacity of a few ounces.  He said he’d think about it and the very next day he surprised me with the smallest yixing I had ever seen.  The gift was sweet, but the sentiment was beyond it.  What made the gift even more special was that I mentioned to him a few days later that I started seasoning it and enjoying it with Golden Needle and to our amazement that was the very tea he had made in that teapot.  The power of tea bound us together through the teapot and made our friendship even stronger.