the first cup of tea

A cup of tea is not just a drink, but an experience. It is not just about drinking the tea itself, but it’s about who you are drinking the tea with. It’s about soaking in what’s going on around you. It’s about the content of the conversation you’re having. To me a cup of tea is a story. And I want to share lots of tea with you all.

I want to start this blog with a few experiences I had while having a cup of tea. Last summer I took a trip to the country my parents came from, Pakistan. I traveled throughout the Northwest of the country because I wanted to see what my dad called “the Switzerland of Asia.” I saw a lot there, and I also got to drink a lot of tea.

In order to get a better idea of my experience during the trip, I think it will be important to give you all of small geography lesson of where I was travelling.

Within Pakistan, I spent the majority of my time in the area known as Khyber-Pakhtunwa. This area is located in the northwest of Pakistan, and is where the Hindu Kush mountains lie. Therefore, most of my time on the road was spent driving in between mountains alongside villages in the valleys.

I’m not a very well-travelled person, however this area has to be the most beautiful place I have ever seen. It not only deserves its name as “the Switzerland of Asia,” but to me is also the utopian place, Shangri La, described by James Hilton in his novel Lost Horizon.

Here’s a map I drew to help you guys understand where I was. The duration of this trip was spent in the area labeled NWFP (North West Frontier Province).

One of the stops on out itinerary was Naran. It was here where we could hike up to Lake Saiful Muluk, which sat up at over ten thousand feet above sea level.

On our way to the valley of Naran, I kept seeing these tea shops all along our drive up a mountain. The interesting thing about them were that the seating areas were situated on top of moving water!

The mountain we were going up had these little cut outs made by melted snow coming down the mountain and eroding the earth. And where there was once part of the mountain now stood tea shops.

I stopped the driver after the second one and we had a tea break there. With the table being placed on top of a moving body of water, I took off my sandals before entering so I wouldn’t lose them. The water was so cold that each step I took made it feel like I was walking across the Arctic.

But even though I felt frostbite coming on, I loved every bit of it. With the summer sun shining on me, there emerged a battle between the heat of the sun, the ice-cold water, and the cool mountain breeze hitting my face. I was neither cold nor hot, I was at peace.

We sat down behind what seemed to be a mini waterfall. We ordered our tea and began some conversation. However because of the loud rushing noise of the waterfall and stream, we couldn’t really here each other. So we just sat there in silence and waited for our tea.

At last our tea came. To be honest I can’t remember how the tea tasted. I know it was chai, but other than that I don’t even remember whether I liked it or not. All I remember was drinking the warm liquid and having my insides very hot while the mountain breeze made the outside of my body very cold.

I consider it to be the best tea spot I’ve ever visited.

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