October 15, 2013

"Bor Hu Hair Ya Hoh"

Recently I indulged in a new interest ... tea, I mean drinking tea ... Chinese tea to be exact. So, I am learning how to brew a pot of good “puer” tea. Experimenting with the rudiments of tea brewing ... the nature of the pot, the cups and saucers (porcelain, ceramics or clay), the water (tap, mineral or pure water), the water temperature, the type (and age) of tea leaves, the fire (from gas, charcoal or methylated spirits) and the various methods of making tea ... learning how to brew a good pot of tea.

A tea enthusiast said to me ... “Shiek ... just GOOD is not enough, you should learn how to brew a PERFECT pot of tea".

PERFECT? Or for that matter ... perfection. OK, let me stray away from tea for a while and say a few things on my mind about perfection. Striving for perfection is for those very particular people ... aptly called the perfectionists. In their determination to strive for the very best, they cannot be too compromising ... their need to be demanding, insistent, stubborn, adamant and obdurate will most likely cause a lot of inconvenience, uneasiness, discomfort and agitation in the process.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against it ... just that I am not that determined generally. Maybe once a while I am adamant and stubborn (mostly for the wrong reasons) but most of the time I am a “never mind, chin chai lah” (meaning whatever) kind of person. I am ok with “this or that’ and there is no hard and fast rule for me. So, I have to (and I can) live with second best or even less. Really, I find it a lot easier for me being able to settle for less.

I cannot be a perfectionist ... I am happier being the opposite. As a trekker hiking up mountains, reaching the peak will be the perfect result. But for me, it was not really about reaching the peak ... my focus is on enjoying the journey. Waking up early, waiting and meeting fellow trekkers, the jokes during the easy morning drive, the breakfast at a quaint village along the way, casual chat while trekking, enjoying the breeze, listening to the birds, appreciating the wild faunas, stop to look at morning sun rays penetration the tree tops, thinking about where and what to eat after the tiring trek. Really, the last thing on my mind is the peak ... it is PERFECTLY ok if I don’t make it to the peak.

Now, back to tea ... a perfect pot of tea? I have heard and seen how people go about brewing (what I think is) a perfect pot of tea and I have great respect for these people. They are absolutely serious about their tea ... the elaborate process they observed involves stringent rules and procedures, specialized tools and trappings, clear sense and surroundings, deep technical and historical knowledge of tea ... plus, the unique skills and abilities garnered from years of experience.

WOW! That is serious stuff ... ask any tea master and they will say the same.

Look, for non-perfectionist like me ... I “play play” only ... I may not be able to make a perfect pot of tea but I am more than happy if I can make a good pot of tea with whatever I have. There is a saying in Hokkien ... "bor hu hair yah hoh” [也好] translated loosely it means “no fish, prawn is good enough” ... I am PERFECTLY alright with “good enough”.