It wasn’t love at first sight if truth be told.
But then again, I didn’t really know anything then.
My interaction with Chinese tea was mostly in Chinese restaurants where I was told that if I drank that brown liquid, it would aid digestion and I could eat more. Not that bad a deal.
Another common meeting place was at tim sum joints. The tagline remained unchanged: drink more, aid digestion, eat more tim sum. If it was what it took……
Then there were coffee shops or hawker centers where occasionally when I was feeling really stuffed, I would reluctantly order this drink- so I could eat more.
I wasn’t enamored to be honest. The taste was awful- bitter and astringent. If it wasn’t to emulsify fat (and alleviate the guilt) I would rather drink coffee or soda or even plain water.
Then love walked through the door.
A friend gave me some Pu-er. Quite a fortuitous chain of event, really, as I would later discover how easy Pu-er is to brew; able to withstand high temperatures and long steeping times. Coupled with a tea set- an old gift that became a dust collector- I brewed the first pot of tea in my life.
And I was bewitched, bothered and bewildered.
Was this the same awful drink I had drank for a decade?
Where was the bitter taste?
Why had I never smelt such a strong alluring aroma before?
That was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with Chinese tea.
I started reading up more on the subject. Then I knew why my past encounters were so unpleasant- over-steeping of tea, usage of tea bags. All the time I had wasted!
Yet I was in a conundrum. With its caffeine content, I could not drink tea at night if I wanted to sleep normally. Nor did I have the luxury to bring my tea set and brew in the office each day. I might be able to fit my set in my cramped cubicle but something told me my boss would not look kindly on that act.
Then, my affairs though not covert could only be conducted sporadically on weekends or holidays.
And it went on for a couple of years until I chanced upon an infuser mug.
The heavens parted, the angels sang.
No longer could I only rendezvous with my beloved on occasion, I was free to frolic with her everyday, in the office no less.
I could happily perpetuate this affair in the office with nary a complaint from my boss.
If you think marriage would affect this state of affairs, you are right. It blossomed further since I married a woman who learnt to love Chinese tea as much as I do.
As a husband, I enjoy serving my wife by brewing her favorite tea for her. I too can show my gallantry and chivalry by giving in to her and brewing her favored lapsang souchong instead of my favorite oolong. And, I get to keep the remote.
Together, we are committed to spreading our passion for Chinese tea.
I remain convinced that once you tasted the real Chinese tea, you will fall, irrationally and irrevocably in love as I did. And my wife did.