[image description: An ornate teacup with painted details around a lovely face floats above its saucer, which in turn floats above a dawn (or is it twilight?) landscape. Stars twinkle in the sky and the light of the golden hour illuminates the background. Rays of light emanate from the cup and light the banderole that spirals up from it. Text reads, “258, Ooh Long Long, the small god of the Perfect Cup of Tea”]
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No one truly knows where she began. China, absolutely. That part is not contested. But was she called into life by a healer adding dried leaves to hot water as a medicinal tonic? Did a brisk wind blow fallen flowers into someone’s water, where they steeped unnoticed for hours? Was it an accident or an intentional creation? Whatever her origins, she was a discovery which has shaped human history, uplifted cultures and enabled atrocities. She’s sorry about that last part. She always knew she was delicious. She never expected to be so delicious that people would cross a world to steal her from the places where she rightfully belonged, would use her as the backbone of empire whether she agreed or no.
But she is eternal and immortal, as enduring as the human need for peace and comfort, as familiar as a loved one’s hand, as calming as a childhood lullaby. She stirs hearts and soothes stomachs, and she is a source of endless arguments, for everyone defines her differently. Is she plain, water and vegetation and perfect? Is she made with cream and sugar, or with spices, or using a special pot? Is she steaming hot or room temperature or pleasantly chilled?
Some people use her as a base for other drinks, hot cocoa made with a base of tea, or as notes in perfume, and she loves those people too. She is here to enhance lives, to be perfect, to be loved, and she’ll take that love in whatever form it comes.
But she’d really like it if people didn’t try that empire thing again. That was awful. Just drink your tea and enjoy the moment, and let the world be.
She’ll be there to hold your hand.