|New tea friends at U of O!|
I graduated from the U of O in the Summer of 199? Wow, that's a bad sign. But, here I am, back on campus, just outside of Friendly Hall. After all of my education, I turned out to be the street vendor that students can boss around if they don't understand manners. And I am here to tell you, if you really make it in life, you will be a street vendor, right here on this very campus, where you currently go to school. Well, I guess that's what success meant to me because there I was...a campus street vendor of tea. Actually that has a nice ring to it.
What does it mean to have a tea friend? Is a tea friend someone who you sit around drinking tea with all day or night? It might be, but here is one version of a tea friend. It can be compared with poet friend or, 詩友 (shi you). A poetry friend is one who you take turns sharing poems with. A common interaction between poet friends might be that one of them would read or recite a poem that had a particular theme. Then you would continue on that theme or expand upon it, leading to something else. Tea friends share infusion after infusion of tea. There are no rules about sharing, and this is not a normal way of drinking tea with friends. I see behavior most like this when I drink tea with other tea vendors. It is almost as if we are taking turns sharing the tea and sometimes it is relaxing, but sometimes it is competitive, as if to see who has the better tea. Some play to win, others play to participate and share. It is usually with the aim of a mutual enjoyment of life. Say one person has a nice Yunnan black tea 滇紅 (dian hong), there are many quality levels available (see Tea Matrix 1A) and some are harder to find than others. So part of the fun is if you have one or someone else has one that is of exceptional quality, it is almost as if the game is called to a halt and everyone just takes part in fully enjoying that tea. Like a tasting format, going from lower quality to higher quality is more enjoyable.