The cicada hums and sweat drips from my brow. The hot days of Summer linger on, long days stretched into cool dark nights.
Rain comes and goes in peels of thunder, roaring past the old wooden eaves of my weathered garden hut.
Tea inside, pulled from a woven basket and laid out onto chipped and splintery plywood.
One 숙우 sookwoo.
Tea enough for one and then some.
A butterfly trapped against the window of my hut is released and left to fly skyward.
Crickets chime and beat their sonorous tune in the cracks between the shingles of the roof. Moss forms mountains and forests for them and other minuscule creatures to explore.
Locked deep within the darkened world of my garden hut, tea leaves curl and twist in the hot water from my thermos.
Round and round the twirl until they settle on the inside base of the ceramic pot.
From grey glazed pot…
… to grey glazed sookwoo…
… to grey glazed cup.
Clear green-gold liqueur passes until it reaches my lips.
Caught within this liquid, the flavors of early Spring, the light of the sun, the taste of the earth.
토향. To Hyang.
Savory flavors and sweet.
Passionate emotions and soft, buttery gentleness.
A touch of bitter.
An absence of sour and spice.
Stone and mineral.
Soil and leafy bud.
A fragrance that fills the room and my heart.
This tea has been gifted to me by an old dear friend. A decade and some years has passed since we last sat together for tea.
Yet, without hesitation, she sends me tea again each Spring and Summer.
A gift that reminds me of the flavor of friendship.
Its long lingering taste.
In the heat of Summer, this slacks my thirst and makes the weather more bearable. Sweet reminisce of the past is what tea serves up best.
For when in Summer we wish for Spring again.
When a friend has not been seen in a long while, how one longs for their company.