...The field surrounding Ally is beautiful and lush. The breeze swirling about her is fresh and light, while the air smells faintly of summer rain - a refreshing and cleansing smell. She sips her tea, which magically stayed warm and in the cup. Bits of the air slip into her tea so that it tastes even more refreshing. "It's been a long day," she murmurs. "I must be hallucinating. Well, I'm talking to myself. That's the first step of insanity."
Ally walks through the field with flowers and grass brushing up against her legs. She finds herself on a path and looks ahead in the distance. There, sitting regally, is a bright red structure - a pagoda. It's a bit up the road, but she reaches it quickly. Time exists but bends.
Ally, cup still in hand, approaches the pagoda and stares into the eyes of what appears to be a statue of a man, clothed in silky garments and sporting a conical hat. Suddenly, the eyes blink and Ally jumps. "You scared me!" She blurts out, almost spilling the mug of tea.
"You scared me," the old man says in tattered English, speaking slowly. "What are you doing wondering around here?" He seizes up her clothes - her "study" clothes: yoga pants, a comfy slub tee and a zip-up hoodie.
How can I explain I just poured a cup of tea and appeared in Japan? Ally asks herself - without speaking aloud. "I'm trying to find my way to the tea," she says vaguely, not understanding that tea isn't just a singular object.
"The tea? I do not understand," the old man says. He shakes his head. "Nevermind that. I could use your help in the farming." He holds out his hand and Ally shakes it, surprised at how soft his hand is. "My name is Yamato."
"My name is Ally; nice to meet you," Ally says politely.
"Come with me, Ally-son. We will harvest tea and prepare for the royal tea ceremony!"
Reader Question 1) What is it about tea that you're hoping to learn more about? Origin? Processing? Interesting legends? What's drawing you in? Ally will answer this question next week in ths 3rd installment of the Teaist Apprentice: Wed., April 13, 2011.
Reader Question 2) I want to know more about the Japanese tea ceremony. Ally will learn to harvest tea leaves, prep them for the ceremony and how the ceremony takes place in the 4th Installment of the Teaist Apprentice: Wed., April 20, 2011.
Send in your questions: firstname.lastname@example.org