13 October 2012

Why Drink Old Tea?

"Ha! Why do you look for old teas?  There is so much good, fresh tea to drink.  It is easier to find and costs less.  You have too much money!!  Why do you like old tea so much?"  The old man still had so much black hair left; he had to be at least 80.  Impressive...Mr. Forever Young.

"It reminds me of the first teas that I've had.  Strong teas with solid body.  Older teas can have a distinctive flavor of passion and love.  They were hand-made by experts.”  True, 20 years ago, the tea industry was less industrialized and artificial methods to boost production were not as widespread.

"HAA!  What do you know about tea from 20 years ago?  You were probably less than 5 years old!"  Mr. Forever Young was a funny guy.  And blunt, like a lot of tea farmers tend to be.

"No, no, I'm quite a bit older than I look...."

"Fine, you were maybe 6, but no matter what, younger than me and I have a better memory than you."  Laughter ensues.  You’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself if you want to get along with these guys.  He was right, though.  He of course possessed more tea knowledge and experience than I.  He eventually agreed that tea back in the days was "better," produced with more care and labor, fewer fertilizers, and fewer shortcuts.  But he also said that it was nonsense to seek those teas out as they no longer exist, at least not in the way we remember them to be.  They are like dried flowers or preserved specimens, still unique, special and beautiful, but not the same.

The times change, he said, and like everything else in the world, we need to change with it, adapt, and come to love the things around us.  He said that holding on to the past is why old people feel old, because everything they love no longer exists.

I've been drinking a lot of greener teas lately, whereas in normal years, it'd just be cooked pu'er and roasted oolongs by now.  Maybe it's because the weather has been so nice.  We've enjoyed an unusually warm, dry and long summer.  We’ve had a few days above 70 degrees here, in October, which is quite abnormal but extremely welcomed. 

I thought of Mr. Forever Young a few days ago when I had a cup of matcha...what a funny guy.  He reminds me to be present in the moment and to enjoy things as they are, not as we wish they could be or how they were.

Drink good tea and enrich your life.