i love it i see reincarnation in effect, a tea aficionado who seems to be more enthralled with tea than a native Chinese. The soul of tea need not possess any geographic conditions. I seem to have the soul of a Celtic Sicilian whom landed in Dezima island for clanging temple bells, zealot that I be. But seriously, it’s hard to choose with so many wonderful tea enthusiasts. I am enjoying the already unpretentious attitude this devotee radiates. The more I love tea, the less I seem to know. Concealing beauty as opposed to the 20th Century ‘in your face, self aggrandizing what’s in it for me’ world we are steeped in. Tea has a strange quality of being theraputic without words.
Duckler’s interest in the traditional Chinese belief systems of Taoism and Confucianism dovetailed with tea in surprisingly significant ways, he says, talking about both tea and Taoism’s relationship to “ideas about the cyclical nature of time, ideas about connecting to the natural way of things — the idea of trying to seek out whatever path makes the most sense, the idea of not resisting and not fighting but being more open to opportunities and enjoying the things in that moment.” As for Confucianism, the ritual of tea drinking is a natural physical analogue: it revolves around “humility, hospitality, and ritual.”
As for humility: Duckler tells a story of traveling to Hangzhou in China’s Zhejiang Province to study tea. “A taxi driver picks me up and says: ‘What are you doing in Hangzhou?’ Taxi drivers are really nosy in China — they just want to know everything about your life. And I said ‘I’m here to research tea and learn about tea culture.’ And he said: “That’s ridiculous! You flew all the way to Hangzhou from Qingdao to learn about tea culture? You are wasting your money. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll drive you around the city, charge you $10, take you back to the airport so you can go home and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about tea culture.’”
Duckler was committed to his trip, but he agreed to let the taxi driver tell him about tea culture. “He said: ‘All right, this is it. You take a cup … you have some water in your thermos…. you take some tea, you put the tea in the water. Drink it. That’s tea culture. You don’t need to know anything else.’ I thought: ‘Is this guy messing with me, or is he some kind of crazy tea sage who needed to teach me a lesson about humility and simplicity?’”
I have to remember: “What would the taxi driver say to me if he saw me right now? I don’t want to disappoint the taxi driver!”