Hakuro tea is one of the most strange experiences I have had with tea. The flavor is round, permeating the environment with a feeling of solidity. The tea shop told me that there is more to a tea than just its caffeine. Each has its own particular “energy.”. And that’s absolutely true. There are many experiences I have had with just herbal tea that have a definite energy to them.
The tea shop said it was really popular with people who know it well, but not everyone does. There is almost no information about it online, with the exception of a book about the Japanese Tea Ceremony, which looks like a guide for advanced practitioners.
Because of the caffeinated content, the tea shop suggested that I make the first two steepings and pour them out. Then I could have a much more diluted tea. Apparently, this is how almost all decaf tea is made. It was still a little too strong for me. Very quickly the feeling of solidity began to fade and I felt like I had just had four shots of espresso. But that wasn’t the only quality. It wasn’t like any other experience I have ever had. I think the experience would really vary between people, but there’s no other tea quite like it, but that goes without saying. No tea is like another. They are all infinitely complex.
When I was trying to do research, I couldn’t find much information. What I did find was inspiring though. Hakuro is a Japanese word that means ‘Mist.’ It is also one of thirty or so names for the month of August. This was beginning to make me explore language, culture, poetry and tea all at once. Tea is truly a gateway into cultures, experiences, and our own consciousness.
Reading that the name was literally the word for mist made me think of all of the times I have experienced mist or even light rain. While I wrote, through my headphones, I kept hearing what I thought were waves slowly passing along an empty shore. I thought I had accidentally left an ambient song playing on my computer. But when I checked my computer, I found nothing, so I took my headphones off. I then heard the direct sound, not muffled by my headphones. It was the sound of cars passing on the street, lightly flooded from rain, that made a soft sound as they passed by at a high speed. I listened for a little while.
The sky is gray again today, and everywhere I go in West Berkeley the streets are empty, except for the occasional view of solitary walking, head down with umbrella keeping them out of the light rain. There was a time when there was no rain in the bay area. It wasn’t so long ago. I remember. The California drought eventually ended, when after a week of contaminated air in the bay from fires in the north, finally cleared. After a few days of it in our contamination masks, we finally left the bay area for Texas and waited it out. It took me a few days to recover. My body felt heavy and weighed down. It was surreal. It felt like we were escaping a true environmental catastrophe, and in a way, we were.
Connecting through tea to a place of emotional realization of the reality of mist is strange. Through its round, circular presence, it encourages me to believe in the possibility of reversing climate change. I don’t know if that is even possible, but this tea will always mean that to me. The realities of the California fires, and the hope that the rains bring. A world completely made by mist could make things more cloudy and mysterious. Maybe there are people living on the planets we can’t see into. Living their days in peace and mystery, and only seeing things when they have a direct view.