Every morning I’m not at the office (sometimes in the afternoon if I’m having trouble getting out of bed) I lay a towel down on my roommates table. Her table, a family heirloom, stains like a son of a bitch if you put anything even slightly warm down on it and I’ve already marred it beyond belief. So I lay a towel down, pour tea into my gaiwan and start steeping. Sometimes I focus on every second the tea sits in water, counting out the time on my fingers before I pour the liquor into my pitcher, sometimes I throw water in haphazardly and come back to the cup when I realize it’s been too long. The actions of brewing with a gaiwan do a wonderful job of reflecting my psychological state. If I’m meditative I do it like a monk, if I’m stressed I fumble my way through it, If I’m happy I nail every step without even trying; my timing is right, no leaves escape the lid in my pour, the color and fragrance of whatever tea I felt like giving what some might say is far too much time and attention too, is just perfect. No matter how I’m feeling though, gaiwaning (to use 外国话) always sets me up right for my day of writing.

I’ve been a writer all my life, but I moved out to Los Angeles about two years ago to make a go of working in Hollywood, and about that time I fell into my obsession with gungfu cha. Since then I’ve slowly accumulated teaware and good tea at about the same rate I’ve finished scripts, sometimes slowly but with and unending rhythm. My work as a writer and my love for tea have grown together because one assists the other. Starting a steep of a tea helps consecrate the moment. Once I’ve sipped the first sip of the day, the lose, unstructured time of ‘the before’ slips away and the hours that lay ahead are now structured. The ritualized non-ritual of simply pouring water into a small bowl, waiting, pouring that into a pitcher, then into a cup and trying to slow my brain enough to enjoy it acts as a boundary, and once I’ve crossed it I enter the place where my creativity lives.


Instagram: @A.f.shifman

Posted on Categories : Oolong Tea, Teaware