Manliness & Winter Tea
Nothing increases the masculinity of an activity like building your own fire. For example, the brewing of tea: generally not considered to be a very masculine endeavor. But, what if you build your own fire to heat the water? Boom. Instant masculinity. Ditto for fetching things. Turning on a faucet is a pretty mundane activity. But, what if you go to a spring to get the water? Bam. Instantly more manly.
My father and I set out to be the manliest of manly tea men and prepare some old fashioned-ish tea; the process involved some laborious tasks that give you a bit of perspective on what it means to have tap water and an electric kettle.
Step 1: Get Water
There is a free flowing natural spring in the area, so we took our
horse drawn wagon car with hand-thrown ceramic plastic jug in tow. (Perhaps not everything about the process was as old time-y as i led on) The spring, however, is old fashioned. Nothing more than a hose leading the spring out of the ground into a creek. We filled up our jug and embarked on the journey back to the fire pit.
Step 2: Make Fire
We lugged our axes into the forest, and fell a tree, thrice the size of a cabin. Our mules pulled the tree through the woods to our cabin, where we chopped for hours until…ok, none of that happened. We had old firewood in the garage and built a small fire. We began with a tripod to suspend the pot above the fire. It took a little while for the bed of coals to be significant enough to heat a full pot of water, but once it was going it was efficient. The times in between brewing lead to some whimsical occurrences, such as a teapot covered in a thin layer of ice when a few minutes elapsed between brews. The enjoyment of a small fire heating a pot of water in a quiet surroundings more than makes up for the increase in wait time and ice on the yixing [teapot].
Step 3: Brew Tea
My father has recently taken to drinking a bit of ripe puer and I decided to bring him a traditionally [see: probably too wet] stored 90′s cake for Christmas. I opened the wrapper and a small net of webs covered one corner of the cake. Upon further examination, it seemed to be the home of a small grub, who I dug out for a photo. Nothing like giving the gift of worms for the holidays. The worm must have been supremely confused, a large steel blade, digging him from his cocoon and lifting him in to a snow-covered forest.
As for the tea, the cold weather and smooth warming effects of an aged shu intertwine nicely. A little bit of damp humid aroma injected into the chill of the snow. A bit of a humid warehouse, a chunk of mountain grown tea, and a winter wonderland. That contrast is a gift that I wish I was able to experience more often, but the rarity of the experience makes it all the more precious.