How making a cup of tea is like writing poetry
Like poems, people have varying opinions on cups of tea. Some do not even bother with them and don’t understand some people’s reliance on it. (if tea is poetry, is a shot of espresso like a haiku and a bottomless cup of filter coffee a crime thriller novel?) Others have very specific tastes (four sugars, gallons of milk, bag left in until the bitter end).
I am one who collects tea in all its most baroque and rococo forms. And I make a cup of tea like I write a poem. Generally I feel like I know what I’m doing, I’ve done this before, but unexpected things often happen. Sometimes I forget the sugar and then the tea is richer and almost too strong. Sometimes I use soya milk which completely changes the whole taste experience. Sometimes I make tea like I would for my dad (not too milky, one and a half sugars, bag out ASAP). If you make tea for others and get it right they will love you, but also they’ll expect this perfection each time. If you write that one great poem, there is pressure to do the same thing again. There is also the real possibility of getting into a tea rut. I’ve had rooibos so much now I cannot stand it, even the smell makes me feel ill, and it’s the same with poems. Perhaps I’ve written so many poems about this particular heartbreak, I just cannot stand it any more.
So what can I learn about writing poetry from making tea?
There are methods but you shouldn’t always follow them. Experiment when making tea for yourself, not when you’re making it for other people.