三道茶 (three-course tea): This is life.

After experiencing tie-dye, we went to a local Bai people’s house for lunch, who also served us their traditional three-course tea that represents different stages of life. In other words, “Bitterness, sweetness, and the aftertaste.”

The first course: bitterness. The tea server heats a small clay jar on charcoal, puts some tea leaves in and roasts them by turning the jar. Then she pours in boiled water and serves about half a cup of the tea to the guests. In the color of amber, the tea has a special burned smell and tastes bitter. It represents that you have to endure the bitterness of the first part of your life to achieve personal growth and a successful career that usually involves hard work and growing pains.

The second course: sweetness. After a similar process of heating the jar, roasting the tea leaves and serving with boiling water, the tea server adds brown sugar, diced Bai cheese, cinnamon, and sesame, etc. in the cup before pouring the tea. This aromatic sweetness is our reward for the hard work and achievements during the second stage of our life.

The third course: the aftertaste. The same procedure as the second course, but the ingredients in the cup is changed to honey, roast rice, numbing pepper, red pepper, and ginger. It’s served 60-70% full. Obviously, it offers all tastes for your tasting buds. It represents that during the last stage of your life, when you think back, all that life had for you come back with mixed long-lasting aftertaste and emotions.

Distilled from the wisdom of life that passed from generation to generation among the Bai people, three courses of tea cover all the stages of your life. It encourages you to be brave, to work harder, to embrace failure and disappointment, and to look forward to a brighter future. I feel that I could use some of this wisdom and encouragement from time to time in my life.

Apparently, there is a lot to think about when drinking this tea:

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