Tuesday, June 8, 2010

One chance

Shortly before she left the U.S. to return to her home in China, Shuai Chen, an HSU student and practitioner of the Chinese tea ceremony, invited us to her house to enjoy an afternoon of tea and conversation. It was a luxuriously sunny Sunday last September, and her presentation was as lovely and fluid as the delicious tea we sipped.

I began this entry right after our gathering, but set it aside to deal with the many other things life was tossing at me. I wish I had finished writing this post when the memories were fresh, but now what I have to share is an incomplete accounting of imperfect memories. And so here is the lesson of ichigo ichie -- one chance, one meeting.

I remember that Pia and Kristin couldn't make the rendezvous so it was just me and Laura. Shuai wore a beautiful Chinese dress -- the kind with the "Mandarin" collar and knotted buttons on the side. We listened to traditional Chinese music and she excitedly showed us a new travel tea mug. We met a roommate who, although charming, seemed to sidetrack our conversation. She showed us Chinese tea ceremony magazines (one article in particular featured photos of a prototype of the Japanese ceremony). I think I might have taken her some dorayaki (a Japanese confection). We talked about how sweets are served with Japanese tea, but not with Chinese tea. I don't recall the variety of tea we drank -- was it oolong or pu-ehr? -- and I had completely forgotten about a darling little clay frog figurine Shuai had on her tea tray until I opened up the draft for this post and found links I had saved to TeaCuppa.com (below).

I found the Web site while searching for a travel tea mug like Shuai's, and, of course, found plenty of other tempting things like a little clay frog quite similar to Shuai's. Intending to visit the site again, I saved the links. But here I am, nine months later, still without a travel tea mug or clay frog and trying to piece together bits of memories of that lovely day. I'd like to say "lesson learned," but that's not entirely accurate. Let's just say lesson received.

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