Two anonymous teaheads, ‘Q’ and ‘A’, are in a room, sitting adjacent from another. It’s the 25th December 2020. Q is full of questions but A is full of answers. It’s silent save for a few Christmas jingles. They are sharing a pot of 百瑞香 (bai rui xiang/baak3 seoi6 hoeng1) between them. The steam evaporates as A pours them both a cup.
Q: So why SecretTeaLife?
A: Overall, I’m quite a private person. By staying anonymous, it helps me focus on the tea instead of how I may appear to others.
Q: Then why start with Instagram out of all platforms?
A: It’s mobile friendly but it has its drawbacks. While there are other topics I’d like to write about, I don’t want to clog up a news feed to get them out there.
Q: What are those other topics?
A: You shall see.
Q: Okay… so, how long have you been drinking tea?
A: Ten years but not all of it was in the 功夫 (gongfu/gung1 fu1) or style. I was using tea bags for a bit and there was some instant coffee in there too.
Q: So what inspired the shift to loose leaf?
A: In 2017, my uncle gave me loose leaf tea which opened my eyes a bit. Not enough for the camera though.
Q: The quirks of having small eyes, aye?
A: Tell me about it.
Q: Another time. How long have you been doing it the 功夫 way?
A: It depends on how you interpret that.
Q: So you were in Hong Kong and now you’re in the UK – what’s up with that?
A: I went back after doing an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Hong Kong.
Q: May I ask, what’s your favourite tea?
A: I would say 烏龍 (wulong/wu1 lung2) or ‘oolong’, particularly the 武夷 (wuyi/mou5 ji4) 烏龍. The 單叢/樅 (dancong/daan1 cung4) 烏龍 come pretty close too.
Q: Sounds like it. What’s your least favourite?
A: A badly brewed tea.
Q: Me too. You use Chinese here and there in your posts; how come?
A: It’s to help with my Chinese literacy.
Q: I thought you did a Creative Writing degree?
A: Yes, but that was in English.
Q: I see. One last question: how do you taste tea?
A: Hasn’t that question been answered before?
Q: But it’s a question that lingers still don’t you agree?
A: I’m sure there are many techniques people can read about.
Q: Would you care to share a few this season?
A: They’re not really mine to give.
Q: Sharing is caring is it not?
A: They’re no different from what’s already out there.
Q: But everyone gets vastly different results?
A: I guess it depends on what you’re using.
Q: Are there any you’d recommend?
A: The results that come up on Google.
Q: Can you narrow it down?
A: I’m sure you’ll have plenty of time to go through them these days.
Q: Doesn’t that apply to you too?
A gets up and leaves, taking a kettle with them. The running tap chimes in a few seconds later. When it’s finished, the kettle roars to life. A returns with the kettle after the noise dies down.
A: I can only provide a perspective.
Q: Is that your answer?
A: Take what you want from it I suppose.
A lifts the lid of the teapot and starts pouring boiling water. The steam shoots towards the ceiling as it fills up the room.