Green tea, of course, is a fine art in Japan and people study for years to do it right. There are special costumes, special bowls for the tea, and even the tea itself is a special blend, especially powdered for the tea ceremony.
You can enjoy the “way of tea” club in some high schools, and pick up a very esoteric hobby (and possibly a part-time job, as you progress, pick up a teaching license, and start to instruct others in the “way of tea”).
Green tea is green tea; my friend’s friend was doing a ceremony with black tea, and I’d been drinking black tea all my life. My father, in fact, had developed several rituals over the years, which finally settled into putting six teabags (Lipton’s) in boiling water, turning off the heat, and letting the whole thing steep for exactly 20 minutes. Then, the super-tea was diluted with a quart and a half of water, and put in the fridge for the next day’s consumption. (Sorry, Jilly, to describe that so graphically, but that’s how it was.)
Well, we didn’t have to cosplay in frock coats and pelisses for this tea party my friend’s friend was holding, but it was marked by ritual. Water was brought to the correct temperature, pots were rinsed and warmed, and all sorts of rules were observed. And the milk! Oh, so many rules about the milk, now eroded in my mind by contradictory internet arguments about how to serve milk with tea (or tea with milk). This party took place before we got internet, so I couldn’t double check the rules later and preserve them in my memory. All that faffing about did make a good cup of tea, but not a out-of-body-experience-inducing tea. There are only two parts I remember – the water must be at a full rolling boil for black tea, and if you pour from a great height, it “excites” the tea leaves, and lets more flavor compounds be released.
But there’s no way I could follow all those rules (assuming I remembered them), even for a Saturday morning cup of tea. Still, I think I make a good cup of tea. Good enough, anyway, and nice to sip when I’m writing blog posts.
I’d spell out how this pertains to writing, but if you don’t see the connection, you probably don’t have a problem – and you don’t want to borrow mine. That said, what have you learned from a tea workshop or tea mentor that gives you a more decent cup of tea (literally or metaphorically)? I’d love to hear. I’ve got room for improvement.