Mornings are tea with the yellow crowned night heron

Last year, we had a chance to take in the whole of Spring, the birds and it is delightfully the same, now as well. Featured today is the yellow crowned night heron that took a liking to the cherry tree outside and perched there throughout the season of blossoms the past couple of years. A great insect forager, this one, I think that’s what it does as it silently meditates on the branches.

Mornings are a tea ritual in our home. I’m served the perfect cup of tea at sunrise and I’m very happy and grateful to have my day begin this way. My husband prefers coffee but he takes tea even more seriously in the way he sources it or how he blends, brews it or even the flavours he uses. He’s got it down to a science of sorts. It’s a constant source of amusement that we seem to have an assortment of mortar and pestle sets, for every place we lived in, each for crushing a different spice or herb for tea (but for seasoning other foods too) The accretion over the years, of tangible memories like along a coral reef and each comes with some lovely sentiment attached to it, mostly of people and places and tea is very serious business in this house :)

Yellow crowned night heron outside the living room window last Spring
Mornings are a ginger ritual. The tea from Assam is a fragrant dawn. Sunlight filtered in to your ratio of single estate Darjeeling measured to a perfect blend. The mortar and pestle of which there's one in brass, another in steel, marble, granite, wood, and ginger is martyred to flavour tea, simply in 'today'. The rhizome of integrity despite the admonishment of marble or wood or metal generously lifts the fog in a pungent presence. It's always the present tense with this red brew of first flush that have been battered in a cut or tear or curl or sometimes simply left to dessicate in leaf. No stale yesterdays linger here for they were oxidized away and you promised to make me tea until the end of the future, stamped in tea gardens in Kaziranga, wrought in mortar and pestle carved in ebony by that wizened artisan in Mwenge. Each day blends differently, as the buds of spring burst outside the window like in a slide viewer, an Oud softly laces the ceiling in notes of the wordless and whole milk clouds the swirl of coconut sugar in a porcelain cup. There's tea in a conversation as it streams its way to a sip on a musical morning. This Spring too I know that the yellow crowned night heron will come visit, watch us from the corner of a kohled eye from among the blossoms, for mornings filled with laughter and the stories we brew.

Tea making is an art and every one has their perfect blend and brew in various parts of India. Even the chaiwalla who serves tea in little clay pots, at kiosks along the major and minor roadways has his specialty. I managed to find this photo I took, of an array of tea pots. I had this tea in the state of Uttarakhand a couple of years or so ago, which was unique in that the clay pots were heated in a tandoor before the spiced tea was poured into them.

Kullar or a clay tea pot for a single serving of tea. It is not an environmentally friendly option as the pots are discarded after each use and they do not disintegrate. Millennia down the line I see the future excavating these tea pots to showcase within museums as ‘brown plain pottery’ and they will wonder what went into them, since our digital records will have been lost to the Ether 😃 or maybe not.

Further reading:

Yellow crowned night heron~https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/yellow-crowned-night-heron

The tea growing regions of India~https://www.indiatea.org/tea_growing_regions

Oud~https://www.arabinstruments.com/the-oud-instrument