there is nothing
so soothing as
hot green tea on a cold
rainy day

I don’t know why it seems that coffee is an anytime drink and green (or oolong) tea seems best reserved for autumn and spring mornings. It is probably just a weird bias on my part, but I tend to avoid it in both the hottest part of summer and the coldest part of winter. It just doesn’t feel “right”. I occasionally drink black tea but, given the choice between black tea and coffee, I’ll always go with the latter.

I’ve been enjoying my tea the past few days, especially after the first steep. Most people don’t know the multiple steeping opens up the flavor as long as you’re using whole leaf and not bagged tea. I usually use my teaspoon of leaves upwards of 3-10 times before chucking them, depending on the variety.

Tea is very much a Zen thing for me, hence the title of the post.

I started drinking tea in earnest when I first took tai chi classes and the instructor would follow up class with a tea social. No, tai chi is not really Zen (it’s more Taoist, but Zen is plenty Taoist itself, so…). Anyway, his classes had a healthy dose of the philosophical, though his tea socials eschewed those talks, and I associate tea with Zen as a result. And yes, there is the tea ceremony, which is very much Zen.

I stumbled upon a local importer shortly afterwards (possibly one of the biggest in the country with respect to varieties and origins) and started making it a habit of tasting many teas with the idea that I might make a retirement hobby of running a tea-house and gourmet espresso bar combo to keep myself active once I got tired of looking at reams of data and “unfucking” someone else’s environmental problems.

In the 90s, before Starbucks and Caribou would ubiquitous names, I trained in Seattle in espresso artistry, moved back to the Twin Cities and managed an espresso bar with some of the same approaches, which worked amazing well, even in to-go cupping. We had our fans and I sometimes miss those heady days.

When I retired, I wanted to stand out as a small, uncompromising, and very gourmet espresso bar with equally snooty tea selections. I might have even served wines or single malts if it hadn’t turned out that I am an alcoholic by nature. Covid-19 might have killed that dream. So it goes.

If anyone wonders why I mostly just hint at Zen and Taoism in my writing, it’s largely because I don’t want to be confused with anyone who has any real insight. Anything I say about the matter is unsatisfactorily mundane and frustratingly non-mystical. What I think works for me, but would probably irritate the hell out of anyone reading it. Plus, I could be rightly called out for “Wild Fox Zen”, as I have no lineage to point towards, nor ordination in any of the sects out there. Why? Because most groups are caught up in a trap of their own making. Ponder that, if you will. It is your koan.

Anyway, my tea cup is notably empty and I feel the need to brew up a refill.

Have a good day.

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