Collaboration with Professional Barista Foreign Home

L E T T E R  H O M E 

To my homies back home, 

I have been so occupied that I’ve forgotten to write. I’ve fallen in love with this place - perhaps because before I arrived I had already known it would feel a little familiar. I’ve seen and felt Japan and this feels like the embodiment of its culture. 

I don’t miss home because it’s come with me. I count my moves like it’s a dance sequence but instead of stepping my feet to the music of the drums, I flow in the way of tea. 

I love asking questions. I love having an excuse to ask an inordinate amount of questions. I wonder what it will be like to stay here longer and lose that excuse. At what point will I have become an expert of the fukusa and can no longer appropriately ask how to make the tails align? Perhaps I am depending too much on my teacher and not internalizing the practice because I know he’ll be back. 

I’ve been so grateful to meet a teacher who wants to meet up more than I want to. He’s shy about his enthusiasm, which I appreciate because otherwise I think he would talk my ear off about the history of every single aspect of this town. I’m still working on being here, so knowing the historical context of being here seems daunting. Though I know it’s really important. 

And perhaps I’m falling in love with this discipline not because of the discipline itself, but I’m falling in love with the experience of being a new tea-maker. Will I fall disillusioned when I’ve grown familiar with it? It’s not unlike losing interest after getting to know someone really well. Maybe I’ve been skipping on reading the textbook between my sessions with Anthony because I want to extend this phase of not knowing. 

I like struggling to get all the details. When I’m making tea for someone, I like that my floundering to get it together demonstrates how structured and specific this practice is. 

I imagine that I’ll forget soon how much I’m struggling with moving the tea stick up and down my hand. I’ll forget even sooner what it felt like to not know that the tea bowl needs to be at 6 o’clock and the tea container at 12, then at 1. (I don’t think I’ll forget that the first time I ever made tea, I broke my teacher’s tea whisk.) 

What I hope I won’t forget is how tickled I am to hear the sound of the tea stick hit the tea bowl after I’ve scooped in the tea. Or how much poise I feel when I pull the tea whisk out of the bowl like it’s a sword being removed from a stone. 

I still don’t understand what my tea life is. I’m starting to bring tea to my life and but I don’t know what it mean to bring my life into tea. Is that what my tea life is? Anthony says that quite often but I’m not sure I’ll ever understand it.