This has been a difficult year. For me, for my friends & family, for the world, really. Not as simple as the pandemic, it’s also the stripping of blindfolds from cultural eyes, if that makes sense: we are seeing clearly the bloody wounds in the body politic. We are finding ourselves unable to converse politely with both strangers and family. We are, ourselves, wounded.
I have no easy answers.
That said, I do have distraction: tea. And teacups. And tea history, and teapots, and all the lovely surcease offered by centuries of cultivated comfort. Scones, and cookies, and tea sandwiches. The company of tea lovers. But mostly? Just tea — the hot soothing elixir that has gotten me through many bad afternoons this past year.
Tea has been a constant in my life since I was small, drinking it iced, heavily sweetened, & sporting a couple of lemon slices. Southern style, I would find out later. As a barefoot kid standing in front of the cooler blowing damp air through the Oklahoma heat, it was just the way we drank it then.
Years later, I would drink Thai tea with its pale layer of cream spiraling down into the red liquid below. I would learn to suck tapioca pearls – ‘fish eyes,’ we called them when I was a teenager – through a large straw long before bubble tea was popular in the US.
Later still, I would share bottomless glass cups of sweet mint tea with my friends in Algiers, going on to figure out the intricacies of English tea when we moved to Saudi Arabia. The secrets of black teas, oolongs, greens, & whites have become as familiar to me as my family history. Not to mention the necessary equipage – tea scoops, strainers, tea balls, tiered serving stands, and of course…teapots. I have sooo many teapots!
This is a tea-lover’s admittedly winding journey through the world of tea. Teas – cups, mugs, pots of and afternoon tea sets – I’ve been lucky enough to savour. There will be (I hope!) something here for almost every tea lover: Japanese tea ritual, English afternoon & high teas, children’s nursery teas, Arabic mint tea. Chai, boba, lapsang souchong. Woven through the various aspects of tea (history, lore, customs & traditions) are stories, my own & those of others. There are also recipes of things that go with tea, as well as that critical information: how to make the perfect pot of tea. And there are pictures – what would writing about teas be without pictures?
Here’s hoping you have a cup nearby, and are curled up somewhere comfortable. Consider this a rather windy road, with frequent stops for tea! More soon!