Tea with Lau Ma

Z has an unusual response to tea.

Some weeks ago, we visited Z’s great grandmother (PL’s grandmother) and in the course of interacting with Lau Ma (Teochew for Maternal Great Grandmother), Z was curious as to what Lau Ma was drinking.

Lau Ma tilted her cup towards Z, who looked and then immerse her face into the cup. I assume she got a good sniff of the tea.

Then she backed away and laughed!

Not the polite laugh of someone getting a whiff of good tea. Not the mildly curious chuckle of someone encountering a strange new scent.

But the unrestrained laughter of someone who has found true happiness in a cup. Or as true as a 14 month old toddler can ascertain.

It was unexpected.

And like a child would, she repeated this several times, moving towards Lau Ma, who would lower and tilt the cup towards Z, and then Z would dip her face into the cup, sniff, and pull back. Then laugh joyfully.

Inevitably, Lau Ma tilted the cup to allow her to sip some tea. And Z would sip the tea and laugh.

This happened for the next two visits.

I guess if I were a “good” parent (or an overly concerned and anxious one), I would object to letting Z drink tea/caffeine at such a young age.

But she only drinks tea at Lau Ma’s and only like once every fortnight, or so.

And today, right after the tea, she napped. So much for the caffeine.

But as I watch Z sip tea happily from Lau Ma’s cup, my mind flashed forward.

Z would be in her late teens, and she has just been served some Chinese Tea. As she breathe in the aroma of the tea, her eyes close and she thinks of Lau Ma. There is a look of peace on her face, as the tea brings her back in time.

Her friend sitting with her is sipping a Frappucino or some concoction from Starbucks or one of the other atas coffee joints. But Z is content with her Chinese Tea.

It hold memories for her of Lau Ma….

In the present, Lau Ma is happy that Z is engaging her, entertaining her, and being entertained by her.

With something as simple as a cup of tea.

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