Take it easy, she said. A-Yi, a middle-aged Taiwanese woman, rushed us out the door. Go eat! Enjoy! Thirty seconds earlier we sat at her table and enjoyed the two different teas that she prepared for us. I tried to pay, but she wouldn't have it. Take it easy.
Odd behavior for a woman who runs a tea store. We came in looking for some tea cups we wanted to buy, but she only had one left, and Leo wanted four.
Want to drink some tea, she had asked? We'd already had two pots, but it's hard to turn down good tea.
We sat far an hour or so and drank two teas from Dong Ding, her hometown. We had a nice little conversation about tea, her store, and our lives. When my rough Chinese failed, she called her daughter's husband to have him translate a few things.
Or maybe it's not such odd behavior to refuse payment for tea, despite owning a tea store. These sorts of things happen all the time in the tea world. I can think of three times I've walked in to teahouses for the first time, had tea with the owner, and haven't been permitted to pay. I can think of dozens of other times where I've been given extra tea or snacks.
And then there are less egregious, but still incredible occurrences. The previous day Leo had been invited to tea by Stéphane, who he had never met before. He brought a beautiful antique tea set to a really cool park in Taiwan, and prepared a 30-year old Puerh for us while telling us about his teaware and the park.
I'm not sure if tea brings the best out in people, or if generous people are drawn to tea for some unknown reason, but I'm constantly struck by the kindness of tea people.
Sometimes people ask me why I like tea so much, and I feel a little bit ridiculous liking a simple beverage so much. But it's moments like these that remind me that it's not just about drinking cups of leaf-water.
Photo is Leo and Stephane in the park. I was so focused on trying to speak Chinese that I didn't take any pictures in the woman's tea room. If you would like to visit it, it is called Chong Er and is in Taipei.
But where in Taipei? Taipei is quite a big city, with plenty of cafeterias, restaurants, teahouses etc. To look for one teahouse there is like looking for a needle in a heap of hay. Matthew
Athletes aspire to get their own sneaker. I'm not an athlete and I don't wear sneakers, but today I'm announcing the equivalent in my world: my own tea set!
But first, a little background. I don't remember when I first drank tea, but I do remember that at the time that I found out how healthy it is, I hated tea. I thought that it tasted like bathwater. But newly aware of its health benefits, I was determined to like it. My method was to drink six cups a day until I changed my mind -- aggressive taste acquiring.
And, sure enough, after a week or so of little Lipton tea bags, I decided that I liked green tea enough to continue to drink it. I wasn't a connoisseur, but I was an enthusiast, downing the stuff solely for the health benefits.
As always, the recounting of the following is not meant as a criticism, or as a commentary on the behavior and life of the deceased. The events recounted here are for the purpose of study, and are in no way included for the mere sake of entertainment. The majority of the information provided comes from eye witness testimony.
Near the end of Wellington Street, towards a crooked four way intersection, perched on a sharp corner is a small sit down restaurant. It seems every town has one, and this one is of a far better quality than many. The staff are warm and though it seems little effort is made to learn people's name, there is a sense that everyone gets treated the same, whether you are a regular or not. That sort of treatment is usually hard to come by, and offers a welcome escape for those passing by.
I first arrived at the restaurant shortly after arriving at the strange crossroads, looking for directions. Even after getting instructions, I still ended up making a complete circle, before I arrived back at the intersection, and finally sorted it out. The exterior is rather unassuming, just your standard fare that one would expect of such a place. The interior is similarly uninspired, save for a long line of photos, recognizing some of the lesser talents that came from the theater nearby. Wellington Street has had its share of success stories, but most end up never seeing their desires fulfilled, the older waitresses more than willing to indulge in your curiosity if you ask about them.
If you look among the photos on the wall you will see one of a young woman. It is a black and white photo. The young woman has thick, curly hair, a perky nose, and a well formed neck and jaw. Her most surprising feature are her eyes. They are surprisingly unassuming, without any characteristic that ends up setting them apart from the rest of the people on the wall. Despite the lack of unique features, she was by all accounts a actress of significant talent.
Most assumed that she would go on to find great success. But as I said before, very few ever end up getting to that point.