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24 May 2007 @ 08:46 pm
tea, loss, and impermanence  
in the umpteenth infusion of a very good aged sheng, clouds of flavor and image float across the mind-screen with each sip, with each precious drop. others have written of what emerges for them in communion with an old tea--geraldo's posts (elsewhere) make note of recollections of childhood places and events, happy memories and simpler times. for each of us, i think, something different emerges--for me, though, none of these proustian reveries take place; rather, with each subsequent infusion comes a sense of loss.

yes, loss. this, i think, is what makes this endeavor we all share so exquisite--the finiteness of it. and in one sense, this is quite rational--for what we're really dealing with are dead leaves, the detritus of a living organism, decaying over years of storage. we're drinking a draught of impermanence, an elixir that with every drop reminds us of its finiteness and our own, of the fact that all of this, all of us, will end.

but the flavors--ahh, this is where the feeling of loss becomes the alchemical retort for my merger with the liquor. it brings heightened awareness, yes, and reflection on things past, but also the acute sense that this brew will end, that this infusion will fade, that each subsequent infusion will bring with it at once new and bold and wonderful textures--but also with each infusion comes the distinct sense that this taste will never again arise in quite the same way. this one, or the next, may be the last.

loss; impermanence. it is only in the direct experience of these that anything we do takes on meaning, real flavor, real depth. it seems to me that an aged tea, and a tea which evolves so profoundly over many brewings, is a drink that embodies these realities--that with its pleasures comes the bittersweet awareness of what each moment truly is.

please forgive these pseudo-philosophical musings. it could be i've just had too much tea...

Current Location: the zone
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
In My Cup:: '80s xiaguan zhu-bao ching tuo
Music For Snobs.kei on May 25th, 2007 12:17 pm (UTC)
i enjoyed this entry.
jesatl13 on May 25th, 2007 02:44 pm (UTC)
Dang....you could be the creative advertising writer for a puerh factory; for a cut of the action...! You guys would sell a ton of tea! I've bought certain puerh' because of your delightful reviews, BTW. Thank you for the entry.
conquestofbread on May 25th, 2007 04:48 pm (UTC)
Well put. And far more economically than anything Proust ever said.
xiaobaiyun on May 25th, 2007 07:15 pm (UTC)
Yes, as the Buddha said:

"Thus shall you view these fleeting worlds:
as bubbles in the stream,
a flickering lamp
a lightning flash,
a phantom, and a dream"

Thanks for your thoughful reflection!
walt_park on May 26th, 2007 02:59 pm (UTC)
If it will relieve you of your sense of loss, you can send all your puerh to me. I would be happy to suffer for you

I'm just selfless like that ;)
shichangpu on May 26th, 2007 08:31 pm (UTC)
ahh, but i could not allow myself to leave you with such a burden...
phyll_sheng on May 26th, 2007 11:34 pm (UTC)
shichangpu on May 27th, 2007 12:55 am (UTC)
as in, om my god, that tea costs how much?