How to Enjoy Drinking Tea Alone
I’m sitting in a little coffee shop in 田子坊 (Tianzifang). I only came in because I wanted to use a wall socket to charge my phone.
I asked for a drink menu and everything was at least 25 RMB, except for water, which was 5 RMB. I ordered water. Then, I saw a sign on the counter that read Promotion: Caramel tea for only 15 RMB. I quickly asked the hostess to change my order to the caramel tea, half the reason being I didn’t really want to drink water, and the other half being that I didn’t want to seem so 抠门 (koumen – stingy).
The caramel tea is refreshing. It tastes best with a little honey added, so every time I pour a little more tea for myself from the teapot, I add some more honey into my cup.
The three girls sitting next to me are chatting in what I assume to be the Shanghai dialect. Every few minutes, the girl with the Paul Frank shirt takes a selfie of herself—I feel awkward looking at her so I just watch from the corner of my eye and chuckle to myself.
Shanghainese chatter and the murmur of the hustle and bustle outside don’t bother me at all. I can tune sounds out like you would with a ticking clock.
I think I look bored to the coffee shop hostess, who glances at me every few minutes. I’m not bored, just tired. I woke up at 4 AM today to catch my 7:30 AM flight to Shanghai. I wonder if the tea I’m drinking has caffeine in it; I had coffee on the plane, and then a grass jelly milk tea at noon. Caramel tea probably doesn’t have caffeine in it.
Shanghai is a busy busy city, but I feel very peaceful. I see crowds of people outside walking around with curious faces, glancing here and there, up and down, and left and right—the occasional person pointing wide-eyed at something. I think tea has a calming effect on me.
I haven’t had so much time to myself for a very long time. I walked around 新天地 (Xintiandi), had a bowl of noodles, took photos of Shanghai streets, got a little lost looking for this place, and just enjoyed solo time today, except for when my cousin picked me up from the airport, and when I chatted briefly with the old lady sitting on the same park bench.
My phone has 60% battery; I wonder if that will last me the evening. By now, I’m nearly done drinking the whole teapot. The tea is cold, but I’m still enjoying it as if my last sips were my first.