I got a package of tea from Ikkyu Tea recently, and it included something I’ve never felt confident buying until very recently: a tin of incredibly expensive, competition grade matcha. I removed it from its protective wrapping and asked my husband if he wanted to have some with me. He said yes, and so I finished cleaning up from breakfast and got out the tea things and then…
The matcha container was gone. Just gone. I looked and looked and looked. My husband got in the game. We checked the garbage item by item, the recycling, the freezer, the dishwasher, random cabinets. Everywhere. It had vanished.
I was perplexed. The only time I’d left the kitchen was to go into the pantry, literally in an alcove off the kitchen, and so we ripped that apart, too. No matcha. Not anywhere.
Finally, after asking people on Blue Sky, someone told me to ask out loud to please bring it back.
Now, I’m both a scientist and also someone who believes we don’t understand everything in this world. I have no problem trying things that can’t hurt. So I upped the ante and asked them (whoever “them” might be—pixies? House spirits?) to please bring it back, and if they did, I would make them their own frothy cup of matcha.
Ten minutes later, I went back into the kitchen to get more hot water for my herbal tea, and the matcha container was there. In plain sight. Right next to the sink. Balanced on top of a water bottle.
I cannot tell you how many times I looked right at this exact spot while searching for this. So I said “thank you!” because I believe in being polite, and also, I was delighted.
I then made everyone in the household matcha: I sifted a matcha-scoop full of matcha into the bowl, added water, and then whisked for about thirty seconds to get a good froth.
I left this tiny little cup of frothy tea on the counter in a place the cat can’t go, because I firmly believe with every ounce of my scientific brain that you don’t make a bargain with unseen powers and then not keep up your end of it.
Anyway, if I were an unseen power, this would be the matcha that I would choose to steal. The flavor is sweet and nutty and umami and very, very bright all at once.
I feel like most of the matcha that’s easy to find here in the states is…what’s the best way to put this? Stale isn’t quite the right word, but it’s close. It feels desaturated in both color and taste. The camera couldn’t really capture the color on this: so bright, as if the tea is just dripping with chlorophyll.
It was an absolutely delicious tea and I hope that everyone who was given a cup enjoyed it.
On the heaviness of the world…
I debated including this in this space because a funny story about missing tea doesn’t match well with…this. But I have been thinking about this for a very long time.
A very long time ago, I worked for the Supreme Court, and while I was there, I worked on cases involving capital punishment—as everyone at the Court has done. Without going into too much detail, which I cannot ethically do, I will say that working on those cases changed me. Profoundly.
One of my takeaways was that if you let it, the administration of death would make you callous. One of my other takeaways (and this is opinion; I’m sure others don’t agree with me) was that some of the most callous people who served as Supreme Court justices got that way in part because they shut off their compassion as a method of handling death penalty cases, and once they started seeing compassion as an on/off switch, it became simple to just turn it off very, very broadly.
I realized that one way or another, the experience was going to scar me, and I would have to choose which scars I bore. I have made a personal choice for myself to try very, very hard to not turn off my compassion, even when it hurt.
I do not proselytize this choice: other people have different experiences and different tolerances. I am not telling you what you should bear. This world is always a heavy place, and it feels as if it is becoming inescapably heavier.
If you are bearing a lot right now, I am very sorry that you are, and I am praying that somehow, the world around you can be made lighter.
This is entirely inadequate, but it is what I have.
I have done a very small number of collections with other authors, and of the ones I have done, this is one that I have most loved.
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