Process, as Inspired by White Tip Oolong (from guest blogger Heidi Dixon Kwon)

The wind breathes gently through the snow outside. Each flake seems to linger in the late winter air, as though in mid-sentence, hesitating to say its goodbye.

As I wrap my hand around the steaming cup of white tip oolong, I let the experience slowly wash over my thoughts.

The tealeaves have gone through a delicate, yet complex process in order to achieve this smooth, elegant and distinctive taste. Each leaf is hand selected, withered and carefully rolled. After some time, they are dried and placed in the fire.

The tradition of crafting oolong has been handed down from generations passed; it is tried, meticulous and perfected. Like seasons, the process is methodical and each step is a necessity.

I watch the snowfall collect on the windowpanes. Locals say it’s been a mild winter, but as a native Californian, anything below 50 degrees is considered below freezing. By my standards, it’s been below freezing since October – so winter has overstayed its welcome.

It’s been almost a year since Daniel and I left our lives in California. It’s been both a steady and difficult transition. Being on the opposite end of the nation from roads you’ve memorized, oceans you’ve cried in and friends you cherish gets lonely at times. It’s a quiet kind of loneliness, a sort of apathy that nestles into your bones. The type that draws you into bed for an afternoon rest, but tempts you into spending hours watching light drain from the ceiling.

Nesting the warm mug in both hands I take another sip and think about the process. The leaves must go through specific changes in order to create its naturally sweet, earthy and balanced taste.

Amidst the chilly air, sunlight peeks through the window and kisses my forehead, as though to remind me of the coming spring. New friends will become familiar faces and traveled roads more recognized. Soon the leaves will awake from their slumber to breathe color onto these ice crested branches.

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