As I steep my morning cup of Irish Blend, I am thankful for all varieties of teas on my nineteenth day of ‘Thirty Days of Thankfulness.’ Except for a brief flirtation with flavored coffees a decade ago, I cleave to my morning cup of green tea with an occasional afternoon bracing black tea to spur me on through the rest of the workday.
For many years I associated the taste and smell of green tea, with just a touch of milk and sugar, with childhood colds. Whenever I had a scratchy throat or an irritating cough as a child, my mother and/or my grandmother would fix me a cup of green tea to sooth away the soreness and quiet the cough. As I grew older, I learned the value of tea beyond just the common cold ailments of childhood. I expanded my tea horizons to other blends, trying Darjeeling (my next favorite after green teas), Earl Grey (never again … I’d rather drink coffee), English Breakfast (my next favorite black tea after Irish Blend) and various herbal fruit blends for summer iced tea adventures.
Once I discovered Leavenworth housed a quaint British shop, the Queen’s Pantry, just a few miles north of my home, I eschewed the tea bag and dove head first into the world of loose tea. I found all the necessary utensils and accessories as well as gallon sized jars of loose teas with samples I could smell and sometimes try in the shop. I discovered Japanese Pan-Fried Green tea among the jars and now keep several ounces stocked at home along side my Irish Blend. In addition to tea, the shop sells gifts and foods imported from Britain and at one time had a cafe that served British cuisine. It’s a delightful spot so browse and shop on a Saturday in downtown Leavenworth; a little slice of British heaven in the Heart of America.
At very nearly the end of 2010, on the 28th day of December, I decided to read several short ebooks found in the public domain at such sites like Project Gutenberg or Feedbooks. I stumbled upon The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura (published in 1906) with this brief blurb:
Minor classic of the Orient. Perhaps the most entertaining, most charming explanation and interpretation of traditional Japanese culture in terms of the tea ceremony. Introduction, notes by E. F. Bleiler. “Provocative and entertaining, this edition is particularly pleasing in format.” — Guide to Asia Paperbacks.
I quickly read it and gained insight into Japanese disciplines and art. The descriptions of the tea room and the tea ceremony evoked vivid visuals I can still perceive in my minds eye. I highly recommend for all tea aficionados.
I take my tea cold as well as hot. If I’m not drinking water, I’m usually drinking tea (iced or otherwise). I rarely sweeten my teas (unless I need an afternoon kick-start with plain black tea). While I like my hot teas steeped strong, I prefer my iced teas unbrewed, relying on Tetley or Luziane‘s to steep either in the sun or on my kitchen counter. Just a hint of tea flavor is enough for my palette.
In closing, I’d like to offer up some interesting quotes, proverbs, poems and sayings about tea:
You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. ~C.S. Lewis
Tea…is a religion of the art of life. ~Okakura
Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary. ~Chinese Proverb
Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea. ~Author Unknown
If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty. ~Japanese Proverb
Tea is liquid wisdom. ~Anonymous
Tea does our fancy aid,
Repress those vapours which the head invade
And keeps that palace of the soul serene.
~Edmund Waller, “Of Tea”