I regularly request time to meet and discuss various things with Fr. Evan. Sometimes we just talk, sometimes I have confession and most times we have TEA.
Previously I had introduced Puer (which he likes a lot) and Laoshan Black from Verdant. This time, I brought Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black Tea from Butiki.
With a smile, he brought out his electric kettle, filtered water and cups for me to prepare tea. Today, I gifted Fr. a fat white Gaiwan and showed him how to use it.
We smelled the aroma of the leaves in a heated dry Gaiwan. Then we steeped the leaves, poured the liquor into the fairness pitcher and into our cups…stopping to smell the wet leaves.
“WOW!” exclaimed Fr. Evan.
“I taste cherry, no peach…wait…plum…some kind of stone-fruit, and the flavor… stays in my mouth!”
I just sat and smiled, knowing how good the tea was, how special from my own experience and from the effect on others I had shared the tea with.
Then I told the story of how small leaf-hoppers chew on the leaves of the tea trees. The tree heals itself and grows even sweeter leaves then before. This is what produced the extraordinary sweet tea we were now drinking I explained.
We sat silently re-steeping tea leaves and sipping many cups of tea, when Fr. John (retired) knocked on the door and came in.
“Oh, Fr. John…you have to have some of this tea!”, said Fr. Evan. So, a new beginning was made with fresh leaves (Fr. saved the previous leaves to re-brew later).
“Fr. Evan”, I said, would you tell Fr. John about how we’re preparing the tea and how it got it’s sweet flavor?”
Flawlessly, he explained the preparation using the Gaiwan (which he did himself) and told about the leaf-hoppers.
I enjoy leaving some tea with my Priest as I do wherever I go (a trail of tea). (There’s special tea left for his wife and little girls for when they’re at his office too!)
I’ve been thinking about the wild tea trees and the leaf-hoppers since drinking that tea, like a lingering flavor and lingering thought.
The bug attack on the tree isn’t met with loss of branches or the death of the tree. The tree over time heals itself.
What is produced is better than what was there before and has more value.
Fr. Evan didn’t preach a sermon to me, but as I was thinking about why I chose that tea to share, I thought about the many hardships in my life that I thought would break me or even kill me but didn’t. There was a choice to be bitter or heal into something sweet like the second leaves that are sweeter than the first ones.
Life is truly better than what was there before and my heart is glad.