Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Human tea leaves

I’ve been drinking tea for several years now, and have only recently come to appreciate the possibilities of green tea. Steeping can make or ruin it. In this process I see a parallel to the process of getting to know people. Unlike black tea, which is fairly forgiving, green tea needs a reduced temperature and steep time to coax out the best flavor, and the leaves should be allowed to unfurl. If you treat it like black tea, you may not get the most from it.

I wonder, do we always let people unfurl gently before us? Do we want to know what their best is, or do we sometimes demand that they be what we want them to be? I have been guilty many times of passing over people who aren’t instantly entertaining or knowledgeable on my favorite subjects, and sometimes I have found that they had much to offer that I hadn’t taken the time to discover. Perhaps this is behind the Asian way of doing business, to go through rituals of hospitality to find out who people are before finding out what they want.

1 comment:

  1. I think you are right about letting people unfurl... I met a seemingly shy person at ukulele class and found out as time went on that she has competed in bike racing and is married to an iron man athelete and plays MahJongg and reads lots of books and lived on Guam for 25 years... Oh how I have come to enjoy her.
    She, the "shy" friend, introduced me to her MahJongg buddy, a seemingly quiet small woman in her 80s, who turns out to be a retired special education teacher, born in Honolulu, lived her married life in Colorado, who volunteers in her church and her community, does ski walking, attends lots of concerts and plays, and in general knows a lot about a lot of other things but best of all she has become a loving and dear friend. We try different teas, discuss books, and pass on useful unformation. Oh how I have come to enjoy her.
    --Auntie Puakenikeni