Ten Years

Dear Beloved Blog Readers,

When we offer a bowl, or cup, or pot of tea, do we think of the effect it will have on our lives and the lives of others?

Do we think beyond the singular moment that this simple gesture represents?

The leaves are selected with care…

…and placed within the teapot gently.

The kettle is warmed to a boil…

…and water is poured with attentiveness.

The pot is closed and, through one’s own awareness of what is happening within the tiny vessel, tea is brewed to a quality nearing perfection.

In truth, much of this effort to make this happen was already complete well before the tea made its way into the pot. Effort by the countless farmers, artisans, and trades people who cultivated, picked, produced, packaged and delivered tea to you and I, the tea brewer or lucky tea drinker, was done with a level of mastery and attentiveness that we may never fully appreciate.

What one is left with is the mere navigation of knowledge of leaves and wares, of material qualities and the qualities of one’s own self.

In steeping tea and offering tea, there is no true goal, only the hope that through offering tea you can somehow offer something of yourself to others.

This, coupled with showing one’s appreciation and respect to the art and craft and effort that went into producing the fine tea that you have chosen to brew.

Ten years ago, I published the first blogpost on Scotttea. Then, as now, I set out with no goal in mind, just a hope to explore the world of tea and the thoughts that would invariably arise as I sat down to make tea. Since then, a lot has happened.

Almost two hundred blogposts have been written, with enough content to fill several books. Incalculable amounts of tea were made, some shared with others, most savored alone.

However, as I’ve discovered since starting this blog, the vast expanse that defines the digital divide seems less expansive. In many ways, the space that separates you and I is the width of my tea table, the space between one 畳 tatami mat, the space between where we sit in my makeshift tea hut.

The true distance I find that changes is time. Time between ten years ago and now seems vast as it does miniscule. Ten years ago I was living and working and making tea in San Francisco. Less than an hour away from where I grew up. Less than a walk away from the hospital where I was born. Living in a small apartment in a 100-year-old Victorian townhouse furnished with three tatami mats, a few antique 箪笥 tansu cabinets, and a collection of tea and teaware.

For almost a decade I lived in this space and continued a tea practice that I had begun since my childhood, one I further honed and developed during my formative years in college. Little thought was given to writing down these experiences. When I did, they never amounted to much. I’d start a blog about tea and soon after abandon it. There was little staying power. In many ways, Scotttea was no different.

What kept me writing is hard to define. Perhaps the desire to log memories. Perhaps a hope to guide others in the often confusing crossroads of the internet and tea. Maybe it was just to see if writing about tea could encourage myself to just keep at it. An experiment at best. No expectations for an outcome.

Looking back at many of my old posts, all I see are the glaring mistakes of a neophyte, groping and stumbling along the Way. A misplaced 茶杓 chashaku. Too much or too little tea. Poor camera angles. Missed opportunities.

In trying to overcome all of this, my posts seem to have grown in size and length. The desire to want to say everything and show everything combined with a sort of endless thread of thought approach has seemed to evolve over the years, much to the chagrin of readers who may have hoped for a quick musing on tea, a poetic vignette, or singular statement.

The practice that has emerged has been one that longs more and more for the connection with others in the real world, in real time. The hut on the edge of my property remains empty, save for maybe the pair of mice I once evicted or a queen hornet trying to survive the Winter cold. Instead of opening the door, I write and hope that once this pandemic ends and once the sickness of our too busy world is over that you and other tea people like you may join me in a bowl or cup or pot of tea.

Until then, I share with you the same tea that I made ten years ago. A fantastic aged 水仙武夷山巖茶 Shuǐxiān Wǔyíshān yánchá from the mid-1980s that was gifted to me by a dear friend more than a decade ago, the same I featured in my first blogpost. With ten additional years of age on this tea, the leaves have an aroma akin to a fine incense. The brewed liqueur is medicinal, both in its flavor and its affect of the body.

Tea like this is rare and special not because it exists but because of the forces that work against it. It’s delicious. It’s too good to pass up. A fool would store it away. And, yet, I’ve done this so I can enjoy it today.

Perhaps this blog is similar. The tea it documents is, more often than not, amazing. It demands to be savored and enjoyed in the moment. To snap photographs, to think about what I will write about it, memorializing each tea experience with word, prose and pictures to produce a blogpost is, in some sense, madness. I’ve often thought of what happens as I make tea and then invite these thoughts and actions into my otherwise unobstructed, often austere practice.

It is a fool who saves these moments. Old used up tea leaves. The dregs of 抹茶 matcha. The dust and patina that accumulates on old teaware. Memories captured and catalogued. And, yet, here we are. Ten years since I put word to virtual page and pressed share. I’m deeply thankful to all who’ve joined me. I hope some day we can join for tea together in real life, beyond this digital space. Just know that the door to my tea room is always open and my message box is just a click away.

Ten years. Almost two hundred posts. Several books somehow locked within these pages. Who will know where we’ll be in ten more years. More tea leaves? A darker patina on my old teaware? Oil and residue accumulating in the cracks and fissures of old teabowls and old tea pots? We’ll see. Until then, let’s have another cup and see what it inspires.

Thank you,

Scott

8 Comments

Filed under Ceramics, China, Meditation, Oolong, Tea, Tea Tasting, Uncategorized

8 responses to “Ten Years

  1. terriellistodd

    So when are you publishing your first book for my coffee table? Writing is a practice just like tea. Well done. Terri Todd

    >

  2. Sweden A.

    I really like the idea of doing something with “no goal in mind.” Sometimes the consciousness/intellect either can’t keep up with or is resistant of what the heart and soul require.
    Congrats on the awesome milestone! I’ve tried sharing my writing a few times in the past, but quickly stopped after realizing how I always tended to “write for an audience” – which skewed my thinking and made for less genuine expression. But I think artists are best when they do whatever they want. So I hope you keep being you, writing freely :]

    • Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts, as well as your own experiences writing. Writing is always a challenge. There’s always a “writer’s block” to overcome. Sometimes this is a perception of needing to be perfect, or to “write for an audience” as you describe. Although I don’t know what kept me writing on this blog for this long, I think what I’ve done is to make it into a place where there is no expectation. I know I’ll find faults. Nothing, including our own expressions, are perfect. It’s always a work in progress, or the very least, a form of practice. A wise person once told me, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes practice.” I’d have to agree with them.

      I hope you do write and I hope that I have the chance to read it.

  3. Paul

    Congratulations on ten years Scotttea.
    It’s a good day when there’s new text. If there is no new text there is also a good day, because then I read an old text.
    Your block is an important help for me on my way to tea. Thank you very much for your effort.
    If you ever come to Germany, we will be able to organize a bed and tea for you in many places.
    Paul

    • Hi Paul,
      Thank you for the kind words (and offer for potentially organizing a bed and tea for me in many places… this sounds wonderful).
      I’m touched by your statement regarding your reading of my posts, both new and old. I hope my blog has offered you maybe a little view into my perspective on tea. I hope it inspires you to make tea and for you to possibly inspire others to do so too (even if their version of “making tea” is different, or doesn’t involve tea). Perhaps this is all about the practice of honing awareness and compassion and sharing this with others.
      Little ripples on a still pond, that’s all we can do in this life sometimes. Happy to have had the opportunity to make my energy be known and happy to know your energy too.
      Warmest regards,
      Scott

  4. This blog is so beautiful. I’ve never seen it before, but I am really, really touched just in the space of a few minutes.

    I would like to create something like this, this is making me think about better organising all my various writings, now dispersed on various social media

    thank you!

    • Thank you for your feedback and thank you for starting to read what I post. If you are considering writing something, I fully encourage you to do so. I hope that I will have the opportunity to read your work!

      Thank you,
      Scott

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