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Ah, pu’er... The aroma... The bouquet! It’s like nothing else. An ancient library: The Bodleian. Grandfather’s old leather gloves. The fish market on Stockton, in the morning as it opens. A hint of toffee at a mountain town fair. And that smooth glide, like a bourbon too polite to bite, like a drop of peanut oil in the air from dinner. The taste of home.
I’ve nigh run through the small trove of old pu’er I’ve been saving for almost 20 years... Yunnan of course, and better than 七子餅茶。 I can no longer spy the name printed nearly microscopically on the holographic foil of each dainty cake. But we need no names; the shimmer of that rainbow is an old friend.
Stars, but the flavour has mellowed nicely over the years. Tonight, for no perceptible reason, I have brewed a pot up. So much depends on a mug full of pu’er.
Yet, in the spirit of gentle adventure, I shall do the once unthinkable, the unforgivable: I shall stir in a dollop of hunny to this cup. Fine local hunny, unprocessed. And hunny of any honesty is a noble gift of gods to the human, no matter how taken. But yet I still cringe at the prospect, as oft I railed against such extravagance.
Yes. Yes, that is good.
I put in less than I thought I wanted, which was the right choice. The hunny sugars easily might overwhelm the tea, especially the leaf of some age. Just a thin dollop to a tall mug, and it should be thusly an honest brew of late summer wildflower by mountain bees. Heresy, but there it is. To adulterate a good pu’er normally insults the leaf. It isn’t cultivated. But what gift of bees doesn’t elevate us toward the Heavenly?
Perhaps I can defend myself by invoking proverbial fools and hobgoblins. And “Consistency is not really a human trait... Aim above morality; if you apply that to life, you’re bound to live fully.” Maybe, indeed, she says too bereft of humility, change is Heavenly. With the natural proviso that it should comfort. Surely hunny does comfort all and sundry.
Hunny and tea;
Heaven and Earth.
They say every day is an apocalypse. They say to rage against the dying of the light. I say, since we are all going out anyway, go out with a dash of genteel delight. Perhaps I’m a decadent at heart. But hunny soit qui mal y pense: pu’er is ever frank, honest, and true.
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