Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Tea Reader Moment

Personal tea moments. Adventures in discovering new teas in foreign lands. Decisions in starting a tea venture. What Katrina Avila Munichiello has accomplished in her book, "A Tea Reader: Living Life One Cup at a Time," is nothing short of delightful. It's the book I wish I could have written.

A Tea Reader is an anthology of readings focused specifically on tea, and to my absolute joy, on tea moments. It is divided into 5 types of stories, or "Steeps:" Tea Reveries, Tea Connections, Tea Rituals, Tea Careers, and Tea Travels. Each "steeping" is filled with personal accounts of a moment that impacted each author, whether a singular and special moment over tea with a dying father, a tea enhusiast's first venture into the tea houses of Japan in the 1890s, an account of inspiring tea travels for a tea mystery author, the rememberances of a New Orleans tea shop owner of the first and last days (courtesy of Hurricane Katrina) of a treasured business, and more.

Some people begin or end their day with devotions or meditations to calm and center their soul. A Tea Reader became my meditation during the past several months when, awakened from sleep due to ongoing morning sickness, I would journey to the kitchen at 3 a.m. trying to find anything to make it better. By sitting still and absorbing these stories, I was transported and able to leave my own physical ails behind.

Katrina has done a masterful job in assembling an amazing variety of personal tea stories from around the world and throughout history. There is not only "something" for everyone, but many "somethings" for every reader.

Some of my favorite readings:

I Don't Drink Tea - a woman's defense of being a coffee drinker, except in very specific instances.
A Tea Cup of Friends - the struggle to make friends and find a sense of belonging in a new town.
Comedy at the Customs with a Barrel of Water and Other Stories - an amazing insight into the beginnings of Lipton's tea empire, including blending teas to work best with each village or city's available drinking water!
The Tokaido - a journey of tea discovery through the forests and hillsides of Japan via jinrikisha, or hand carts pulled by teams of 10 men.

This is one of those bookshelf treasures that will be pulled out year after year until the pages are worn, stained with a variety of beverages or snacks, and perhaps even filled with underlines and notes in margins. And what with the holidays literally around the corner, you may want to order a copy now for the tea enthusiast in your life. They are sure to be delighted and entertained.

A Tea Reader is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. (Try it! You'll love it!)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Gift of Tea Moment

There are those in the world who do not see the value is social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Personally, I have found some very interesting resources, communities, and even friends as a result of exploring these venues. Case in point, when I was preparing for a trip to New York in late September I asked my Twitterverse of tea friends if they had any recommendations of tea rooms. The response from @AGiftofTea: That I must visit In Pursuit of Tea.

And so I did - with the added bonus that @AGiftofTea would meet me there!

It was with great pleasure that I met Jo-Ani Johnson and learned about her own journey with tea. Now, I could wax poetic about our time together, but as the holiday season is upon us I want to share with you her craftsmanship and creativity. And who knows? You may just find yourself able to check a few more people off of your shopping list as a result!

Jo was thoughtful enough to present me with one of her hand-crafted, tea-inspired jewelry creations. I fell in love with the delicate artistry.

To browse her collection, and delight the jewelry lover in your life, visit HERE!

In addition to her ability to craft such works of art, she also has a way with words and education. Recently, my day was made when a package arrived from Jo with the following inside:

This beautiful gift bag contains an herbal blend of tea designed for children, and an educational booklet on the historical events that led to the enjoyment of tea that we experience today. The book is simply, but beautifully illustrated (by Jo, of course!), and the tea blend is a caffeine-free rooibos-based blend that is light and fragrant enough for children to enjoy, but dark enough in color like Mom or Dad's normal cup of tea! Brilliant!

I love having such opportunities to sit with someone and learn what makes them tick, what they enjoy, and what amazing gifts and talents they bring to this world. Jo has a unique way of introducing beauty and understanding in a tangible way, and I hope you will take a moment to look, enjoy, and indulge.

Thank you, Jo, for not only introducing me to In Pursuit of Tea, while I was in New York, but also sharing your amazing story and talents with me. I look forward to seeing you again soon!