About Tea Change

My name is David.  I live in Portland, OR, with my partner, Emily, and our tiny dog, Mr. Bingley.  I love tea.

I grew up with a fascination verging on reverence for Japanese culture.  My father's work has taken him to Japan several dozen times, and I've gone along on a few of those trips as well.  On my first visit, I learned to walk.  On subsequent trips, I discovered castles and shrines, paper houses and mechanical pencils, ancient vine bridges and rows upon rows of the most appealing little toys I'd ever seen.

I didn't realize how deeply I had absorbed the ideals and aesthetic values of what Okakura Kakuz┼Ź refers to as "Teaism," though, until I read The Book of Tea.  And what a book it is!  I went into it expecting a sort of stiff, dry, anachronistic treatise, but was swiftly disillusioned.  I found my own thoughts and feelings reflected there, but transmuted, refined, and highly attuned to history, all informed by Okakura's deep love and knowledge of tea.

I first came back to tea — I'd almost say was driven back to it — for its medicinal value.  For many years, my extreme-crash reaction to stimulants made tea's comfort fleeting, at best.  But, in 2010, I began taking an antidepressant which has the happy effect of mitigating that sensitivity.

In addition to the antidepressant, my caregiver recommended a prescription stimulant often helpful for people with my particular brand of attentional disorder.  With my delicate and reactive history in mind, I suggested starting with a stimulant of a gentler variety.  After all, Camellia sinensis has been used as a pharmaceutical as long as — probably longer than — it's been enjoyed for its flavor.  Why not continue the tradition?  She agreed to the experiment, and I returned to tea.

As I've become more thoroughly immersed in tea, I've begun to discover that its therapeutic properties lie much deeper than its caffeine content.  Its medicine encompasses chemicals, sure; but, its medicine also encompasses — for lack of a more accurate term — magic.  I hope you have had the good fortune to know what I mean.

And, as tea's practical and aesthetic values have been delighting and uplifting me, I've also begun to be pointedly aware of a few of its other values: its value as a lens through which one can learn about the history, culture, and cultural traditions of everyone from the lady at my favorite local tea shop, to nations of strangers who live thousands of miles away; and its value as a sort of portable, cozy space, in which one is equally likely to find a haven of friendship and boisterous discussion, as an evanescent and deeply personal temple to the beauty of the everyday.

All of this seems, if not capital-i Important, at least very special, and very easy to lose track of.  So, I've set out to document the changes I taste in each steeping, and the changes each steeping works in me; the details I notice in the world as I savor the world of each cup; and, really, whatever remembrances of things past the flavors and aromas happen to stir up.  Thanks for reading!