So…have you all seen Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon?
The famous Ang Lee movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is actually named based on a common Chinese idiom, describing somebody who conceals their talent. Our Jianghu hero Li Mubai (Chow Yun-Fat) is tasked with the duty of protecting a dangerously powerful sword, the Green Destiny – But in the days before the sword can be relocated to a safer place, it is stolen from our unsuspecting heroes by a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Yu Jiaolong (Zhang Ziyi). The sword is known for its incredible craftsmanship and power, truly a force to be feared in the hands of a master. Jiaolong is a very skilled martial artist despite her tender age and innocent features. She has already surpassed her master, though she has kept this fact well-hidden. While the sword is as mighty as the legends tell, Jiaolong’s skill is nothing to be underestimated either. When she finally faces Li Mubai as he demands the return of the stolen sword, Jiaolong finally realizes the incredible gap between raw talent and true mastery. Even with the aid of her newly nicked treasure, Green Destiny, she is no match for the swordsman Li Mubai. While effortlessly repelling Jiaolong’s every strike, Li Mubai attempts to convince the young martial artist that with practice and focus she would undoubtedly master the sword.
Those of you who have seen the film, you know the rest. For those of you that haven’t, I won’t spoil it. Why am I bringing up Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon again? Well…I’ll pretend I’m trying to be as thought-provoking as Mr. Ulumochi…in reality, I just love this movie and all of the lessons and themes packed inside.
The past few months, I was fascinated by the different materials, qualities, and craft that combine to make a quality pot. I was curious to find out what clays, sizes, and other considerations might be able to pair well with what teas I drink. I also explored the differences in opinions I found amongst friends, articles, and internet forums. To truly learn about pots through accumulation would cost a fortune. Fortunately for silly old me, I have nowhere near the spare change to throw around to attempt such an exploit. Still, I found myself with some new teaware. Reflecting on it all now, of course, it was all money likely better spent elsewhere.
While there are advantages and unique traits inherent to brewing with any given type of vessel, be it clay, porcelain, silver, gold, stone, or otherwise – Even if your pot is made with the highest quality material and craft by the greatest potters in the land, they must be wielded with the proper skill. Possessing a high-quality pot does not automatically mean you will brew an unrivaled cup of tea. Tea and brewing are still the focus of any session. Simply having the Green Destiny does not result in enlightenment. It took me some time to realize but I finally woke up to the fact that I fell for the classic traps of the tea world.
Li Mubai doesn’t rely on his sword, he relies on his years of relentless training and meditation. I have come around again to realize that good water, good tea, and good technique will result in a consistently better cup. That said, there is nothing wrong with adding teaware to the mix. In my personal case, I blindly ignored the warnings and suggestions laid out by veterans. I feel as if I let myself focus on the wrong factors in trying to improve my own tea experience. It’s back to the basics for a while: A simple gaiwan and a focus on finding good teas to learn to make great tea with.