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A Cup of Ginger Tea: Relaying the Story of My Family

On the airplane from Tokyo to New York, while everyone else was sleeping, my nose caught a fragrance of ginger tea. There were no better thing than a home flavor when you are in another country. For me, a cup of ginger tea usually settle me down and clear all moodiness from me. After I arrived at my house in the US, I sat down at the table and made myself a cup of tea on the second day morning. Suddenly, the gentle aroma from the tea brought me back to my childhood. Remember my first time drunk this tea when I was 4, and the tea was made by my grandmother. I lived in my grandparents’ house during childhood, therefore I caught lots of their habits. My first impression of the tea was flat but also unique. Grandma’s tea had the same dark green color and similar smell like most regular tea, however, I tasted more emotions in it. The hot vapor and the sweetness from the tea invaded my brain, along with that, also memories of family stories.

The first trackable record of my family was in the early 1900s when my father’s great-grandfather migrated from the Yangtze river valley to Manchuria. 20 years later, my great grandfather was born in a cold winter in northern Manchuria. After China began to adapt industrialization, my great-grandfather opened a little workshop to make a living. Due to the dusty working condition in his workshop, he suffered from pneumonia for over 60 years and passed away in the age of 82. With time passed by, his face became blurry, however, a taste of him lasted for generations.

What my great-grandfather left for the family is his special tea. He invented the recipe himself to help his pneumonia. The first generation his tea influenced would be my grandparents, my grandmother never worked because of the cultural revolution took place in the 1960s. After the family factory got nationalize by the government, her family moved to a much smaller house and my great-grandfather’s pneumonia got worse. Therefore, my grandmother took over all housework and at the same time took care of her father. However, the tradition of drinking tea never stopped no matter how hard it was. In the cold winter of Manchuria, the only enjoyment for grandma is a cup of hot tea. In her memory, the bitterness in the tea is her stories in those tough years.

Story changed after grandma married my grandfather. The marriage was planed by two families and no wedding was held. My grandfather put all his time into the factory after they got married, as the new number of the family, he quickly addicted w ith the family tradition tea. With a cup of tea and the feeble light in his room, he read countless documents and contracts. He also never seemed tired or despair on his job. In the darkest time period of China, when most of factories gave up to fight against nationalization. My grandfather was the torch in an inky night, pointed out the path to all Chinese factory owners. Unluckily, he died when he was only 55. In his short life, so many impossible goals were achieved, he not only brought back one factory my family owns, but also brought back many lost Chinese merchants. Even though he left us so early, His fiery passion towards life melted in the tea, became the spicy from ginger and keep inspiring his descendants.

After several years of challenges, concerns of food disappear and the family got richer again. Because this tea was easy to make and flavored drink was rare back in the 1970s, grandma developed the recipe and started to make it for the whole family. My dad once told me that every time he has a soccer game, he would bring a full water bottle of tea with him and hide in the shade to keep it cool. Until today, every time when he drinks it he will flashback pictures of him running on the soccer field with his friends. This special flavor witnessed my father’s life from kids to an adult, for him, the fruity sweetness represents love and concern from parents.

Since I was a kid, this drink has always been part of our daily life, often appeared on the dining table and serve it simply use for who need it. Although soda, ice tea and any other drinks became easily accessed in the 21 century. My father brought tea to work everyday. One of grandma’s habit is a cup of tea in the morning before breakfast. Unlike other life essentials, this tradition tea connected with this family’s fate and became the totem of us. This precious heritage from my great-grandfather heritage from my great-grandfather gave me a message of the family spirit; passion, dedication and leniency, it also contained essence of all elders’ virtues and meant to inspire and to educate all descendants in the future. The recipe is not the most important, the most important part is the flavor. The flavor of the tea is the flavor of tradition also the flavor of legacy.

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