Tea is, as many of you already know, one of my absolute favorite worldwide things. Or moments, I should say. Before daylight breaks every morning, I purposely and happily wake up in the wee hours, the house still quiet, knowing I have a while to sit, contemplate, and pour myself cup after cup of Gong fu-style infusions. In the summer it's usually a green tea (these days, one called Fragrant Leaf from Peter's shop); in winter a dark roasted Oolong or an earthy Pu-ehr (warning: this might change in the Bay Area, where the coldest months are the summer ones; foggy days go well with more warming teas). Nothing beats the silence of those waking moments, when the evolution of the flavors in the successive infusions of my tea leaves balances the changing light of another oncoming day. Each day it tastes and feels different, and yet the daily ritual is a safeguard, no matter where I am.
Tea is not just a solitary pleasure, but also a time for sharing; many of the new friendships gained during the past few months here were done so over tea. Gong Fu-style tea lends itself to long, drawn out conversations, ideal for telling someone the story of what brought you to where you are now.
Spaniards, alas, are not big on their tea. It's clearly a coffee-drinking country; maybe due to their late hours and need for a quick kick in the morning (often accompanied by the boost of a sugary pastry in a café). Fortunately, in Barcelona I had two wonderful hangouts (this one and this one) where I used to meet up regularly with other tea-geeks, some of whom became friends for life, like A., whom I miss dearly.
Until recently I thought that tea and tapas were two irreconcilable facets of my own multifarious background. What could be more different from a boisterous tapas night than a contemplative tea session? How silly of me not to have made the connection sooner: the nature of a tea session -especially of the shared kind- is actually quite similar to the backbone of an evening of tapas: we sip, we nibble, we converse, we share. But of course! Little cups and little plates.
Now that I've had the eureka moment, I want to share the experience with you. If you are lucky enough to live in or around Berkeley, take advantage of the opportunity to sign up for this special evening.
I hope to share my little cups and little plates with you.