Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tea Time in a Korean Juvenile Prison

One is traveling over the side of a low sloping mountain, there are a few large iced bottles of tea that bulge from the old, tattered bag which is draped around one's shoulders. The summer sun scorches the top of ones head, causing one to sweat through one's thin shirt. Finally after about a thirty minute trek one has reached their final destination. The security allow for ones clearance and smile and wave one into the large, heavily secured facility. Surrounded by thick high barbwire-topped fortified walls one enters this Korea juvenile detention center.

One knows this place well as one makes a weekly trip to volunteer here. Usually we talk, joke, tell stories, hang out, and, today, like the weeks before we will drink tea.

The cool refreshing taste of tea is always met with kind and sincere jubilation, in the hot, unariconditioned, stuffy confines of the facility. Today is like any other, one brings their favorite, an iced then frozen Japanese sencha, a far cry from the preferences of their Russian counterparts. It's refreshingly sweet grassy taste is even preferred over most Korean and Chinese varieties. Half-melted, one pours it into simple paper cups and we discuss the flavour of this unimaginable delicacy. These boys' comments about the tea are simple and sincere. We don't spend too much time on the tea but continue to enjoy it and its gift, as well as discussing what ever comes up.

What great company to share the gift of tea!



Salsero said...

Very admirable action, and a surprising incursion of reality into your normally tranquil tea room. Thanks.

Matt said...