Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas...Have Some Tea

Welcome to my Christmas Blog.  I’ve decided to write about something very dear to me – tea.  People who know me know that along with many varieties of tea itself, I collect tea pots (I have some beautiful pots, but have a special place in my heart for some very hideous ones too), tea paraphernalia, tea books, and other tea related items.  I also collect tea stories.  I have many of these, but today I will focus on telling you about the best salesperson I ever met.  Her name is Stella Wong and she has a marvelous tea shop in Hong Kong. 

I met Stella Wong quite out of the blue one day.  My husband and I were walking by, looking at the various shops and stalls and this lovely young woman who was standing in the doorway of her tiny shop simply asked us to come in to “have some tea”.  Walking into Stella Wong’s shop was like entering the T.A.R.D.I.S. (I am a geek, but had to ask my Geek husband about the spelling).  The exterior of the building did not in any way reflect how large it was inside.  Surely in order for it to hold this much stuff, the building must really be huge!  I was in my glories – there was tea stuff everywhere.  Shelves lined the walls and held everything from ornate pots, tiny little tea cups that have no handles and hand painted designs on the sides, bamboo and shiny gadgets for making tea, every size of Buddha statue to bless the tea makers and drinkers alike, and tea – rows and rows of shelves of tea in great large wheels and lovely tins.

Located toward the back of the shop was this gorgeous rosewood table.  It was ornately carved with areas cut out of the wood.  On top of the table there was a samovar steaming away and all the equipment and utensils needed for making tea.  While my husband browsed the shelves, taking pictures and finding the right Dragon tea set, Stella seated me across from her and proceeded to make pot after pot of delicious tea – green, white, Dragon, Gunpowder – the list goes on and on.  As we sat talking, she deftly poured scalding water into the pot, swished the water around, poured it out over the little Buddha that sat in happy observance next to us, added tea leaves to the pot, filled it with water, then waited.  As we waited for the tea to steep, Stella talked.  She asked us where were we from, were we enjoying our vacation in Asia, what had we done so far.  Never once did she try to sell me anything.  We were simply two friends enjoying a visit over a cup of tea.  It was thoroughly and completely enjoyable.

The cups we drank from were tiny, maybe holding an ounce of liquid at a time.  It wasn’t until I drank 30 or 40 of these little sips of heaven (and was altogether much too close to exploding), that I realized that as long as I emptied my cup, Stella (being a gracious host) would continue to pour.  Out of shear (and uncomfortable) necessity, I wised up and left some tea in my cup.   Once we finished our tea, my husband and I made our purchases (let’s just say that Stella probably had to spend the rest of the day restocking the shelves and leave it at that, shall we), then toddled off back to our hotel so I could take a much needed refreshment break and nap. 

Later that afternoon our purchases were delivered to our room.  As I was going through all the bags and boxes, oohing and aahing over our treasures, I realized that at no time did it feel like anything other than a visit with a very pleasant and lovely woman.  And each time I use one of the pots or cups, or drink one of the teas (yes, I still have some of the tea 10 years later – that’s how much we bought), I am reminded of that wonderful afternoon.

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