The things you have to do for tea… Here I was in an unknown mountain, climbing on a rattan ladder, which with every step I took was turning back into a forest.
“Why did I get myself into this strange dream?” was the first thought that crossed my mind. Of course it was a dream, how else would I travel to China looking for … who was I looking for? And how did I know it had anything to do with tea? When I told you it was all a dream.
Suddenly, I find myself in a clearing with lots of herbs and plants. While looking around, I saw a tall bare-chested man with some belly, dressed in a wild skirt and with a collar of leaves around his neck looking for leaves and trying them before speaking about what he felt and writing what looks like ideograms in a sort of book
Finding that I was here, he just stopped and looked at me before beginning to speak.
– Who are you?
– I am the Dream Walker that got lost on his way...
Obviously, not really answering a question is a wise move when you are in a dream or facing a potential threat as a certain Barrel-rider tells us “This of course is the way to talk to dragons, if you don’t want to reveal your proper name (which is wise), and don’t want to infuriate them by a flat refusal (which is also very wise). No dragon can resist the fascination of riddling talk and of wasting time trying to understand it.” (in the book that should be known as There and Back Again, 1937)
… and …
– Could you just give me a hand and try these plants?
– Wait. You want me to try some unknown plants?
– Yes and tell me what they do to you.
– Are you kidding?
– I have done this for circa 5,000 years and I am still here.
– What did you just say? 5,000 years?
– Yes. Are you deaf? If so I have found a peculiar plant that grows in the mountains of …
– No, no. I am perfectly fine.
How should I call you? Your Highness? The Great One?
– Don’t call me and keep on making so much noise, you are disturbing me in my task.
– May I ask you something?
We just looked at each other without saying a word.
– You won’t stop, will you?
– I don’t think so. So tell me, since you studied plants and herbs from all over Tianxia, could you tell me if there is any truth in the wonders described by some sellers about the virtues of tea leaves to solve everything?
– Don’t you have a better question to ask me?
– Sorry, it is the best I could do and this is one that I have been asking myself a lot.
– What do you think? If there was a panacea, don’t you think I would have found it? No, tea is not something that can solve every problem on Earth or every health problem you might have. You can try all the teas you want, they can help but will never do all the work by themselves.
– So they are lying to us?
– Or are you not lying to yourselves? Fooling yourselves by believing into some of the oldest tricks around here. It is like Alice in Wonderland, you follow a White Rabbit hoping to catch something and then one day you wake up and you’ve lost everything you were purchasing.
Speaking of which, I think I saw a Hatter looking at you with a clock and saying something about a tea party. Is someone waiting for you somewhere?
With these words, I felt like I was drifting away from him and getting back to reality and my cup of tea. Without thinking anymore about it, I just drank it and wondered what was that all about. What is in a cup of tea that makes us like this so much?
As I kept thinking about it, I saw a tea leave falling into my hot water cup and I smiled. The answer was simply to lean back and enjoy the cup of tea.