Before I studied martial arts I couldn’t tell a tea bag from a punching bag. But it wasn’t long before I was at least knee deep in Asian culture and, of course, food. And while I ate the food I found the eternal tea pot. You dine this way and you learn a little trick, leave the teapot lid open and the waitress knows you are out and comes to replenish the endless stream vital fluid. At the time most Americans thought Lipton was tea, instead of the stuff they sweep off the tea house floor.

Now, decades later, tea is becoming the thing. But of course, only for a specific purpose far from what it should be. There’s anti-oxidents, and pills with 45 cups boiled down to one tablet, and infusions, and “tea-like” drinks, and STILL not the inkling of the real joy. We already see it flavored with strawberries and fragrant with lilac and just about everything to disguise the taste and, more importantly, the experience. It just takes too darn long, three minutes, to learn how to make real tea and, since those thousands of beautiful Chinese poems just don’t make it over a cup of java better not to start reading them in the first place. And if that’s the way they want it that’s just peachy tea. But don’t let them rob you of the martial experience too. Resist. Meditate on the mat. Respect yourself. Practice hard. Forget victory or defeat. Listen to the stories. Once in a while be brave and try a cup of tea, straight.