If it’s not bitter, it’s not tea

Photo by Mona Mok on Unsplash

by Elena Zhang

They look like arms, the honeysuckle petals that unfurl in the boiling water, blooming again briefly to embrace emptiness like dying women. By the time the tea is done brewing, the petals are limp and drained of color, bloated and floating in a pool the color of burnt sugar, of dehydration. I almost forget to add the dried jujubes, plopping them in like heavy jewels. They’ll make you live longer, my laolao had told me, her skin as wrinkled as the maroon fruit. When it’s time, I take out the scalding strainer and blow across the liquor. I drink and hold my ancestry in my throat. 


Elena Zhang’s work can be found in HAD, Bending Genres, and Gone Lawn, among others. Find her on Twitter @ezhang77.


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