I just learned about the gyrokuro variety of green tea. In Japan, they make this from a specialized variety of tea plant and grow it slowly in the shade, so it produces a sweet and delicate tea. It is steeped at lower temperatures, sometimes not much higher than body temperature, and it is valued as some of the most expensive tea in the world. It can be steeped again and again, bringing out different flavors with subsequent brewings. If tea could represent a life, I think this would be mine. Sheltered in a comfortable environment, brought up with everything I could even think to ask for in one of the wealthiest countries of the world. If Paul was a pharisee of pharisees, how much more so me? Baptized by the time I was in Kindergarten, equipped with scholarships and inheritance and the ability to travel the world, trained at one of the leading institutions with a medical degree worth hundreds of thousands. I don’t know why I would benefit so much in a world where so many suffer, but I do know “from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Though much of the value of tea comes from before it is harvested, the quality of tea comes from its processing – drying, roasting, fermenting. And then the tea doesn’t fulfil its purpose until it is steeped to produce the aroma and flavor. I think it’s Biblical to see our lives a bit like this – through the trials we become who God created us to be, and through the leaching out of our selves we become an aroma pleasing to the Lord. I would surmise that David was a pu-erh tea, fermented to a refined savor through years of persecution under Saul, able to produce a fine cup over and over without the bitterness other leaves would produce. A man after God’s heart. I think my Malawian doctor friend is a ceremonial-grade matcha. Hand-picked in Malawi from unforgiving soil, crushed to a powder and whisked up frothy until there is nothing left of himself.
He’s the type of tea that forms the cornerstone of an incredible zen experience, a praiseworthy masterpiece in preparation, perceiving, and partaking. How different life is for him, working under difficult circumstances without pay or appreciation. And here I am, still in America, still being refreshed and nurtured. It’s hard being tea – our experiences so single-dimensional, our understandings incomplete. How great it will be in that day when we can all gather together at the banquet of the Lamb, poured-out offerings and pleasing aromas, those whose tears God has gathered up in His bottle and those from whom He has given and expected much. It’s been nice being gyokuro, but I know the purpose I was created for. The hot water is coming soon, and after that, the celebration.