tea for one
October 3, 2010 § 1 Comment
Given my ostensible love for all things Japanese, it might seem a given that I also love drinking tea. And it’s true, I am a devoted tea-drinker. But far before my current Japan-o-philia set in, even in my youth I cultivated a careful appreciation for tea and all its necessary provisions; namely, presiding over my doll tea parties with a mild brew (read: plain water) that was heavy on the sweeteners (read: pilfered sugar cubes). From these humble beginnings, nowadays I’m hardly without a cup or mug trailing a paper tea-tag. And although I fancy myself a long-time adherent to tea drinking, disregarding the errant sugar-water days, until I began studying the Japanese language I never really considered the cultural ties I was cultivating. And now, with an established tea routine built in to my daily studying, in every cup the early childhood memories of tea steep with newly formed associations with Japan, fusing connotations old and new. But above all, I love tea because in the fifteen minutes or so brewing a cup and unhurriedly sipping, I’m able to distill the moods and meandering thoughts of the day. So while the ostensible reason for my love of tea is because of my tangential interest in Japan, for the most part the historical and cultural significance of tea are all but peripheral in my mind to the single, Pavlovian response of correlating tea with a mental break, and usually a cookie :P
Which goes to show, I think, that cultural tags on things ultimately have a negligible effect on their use and enjoyment. I love Japanese culture, and I also love tea, but not exclusively because of its linked association. Kind of like how I also love cheese from Wisconsin, but not necessarily because I cherish a deep, abiding appreciation for the daily life and culture of the Mid-Western state. Sometimes the interest in a food or drink or way of life precedes the interest in the culture from which it derived, such as with my tea-drinking, but it’s a happy thing to realize your beloved means of relaxation (and only sometimes a means for homework-procrastination…) is also a way of life in another culture.