Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tea and books, books and tea.

For such a little word, "tea" holds all sorts of connotations. It's deceptively simple on the surface (leaves + hot water = tea) but when considered in the cup, on the tongue, in the history of humankind, it is anything but that.

Tea means many things to many different people, in different places. I was reminded of this recently when reading "The Book of Tea" by Kakuzo Okakura. It's a fascinating read. As he so elegantly points up, the culture of tea is complex.

My own relationship with tea and the trappings of tea has been deeply influenced by my Anglophilia, which I am absolutely convinced began the first time I escaped on my own into the world of Kenneth Grahame's Wind In The Willows. If you've never known the company of Mole, Ratty, Toad and Badger, it's time you do! These (mostly) gentle woodland fellows lead eventful lives in the English countryside, where their relationships, idylls and adventures are entertaining and full of wonder. It's a book I've returned to time and again, and everytime I do I find that seven year old girl inside of me is alive and well. It's good to be reminded of that, sometimes. I think it might actually be necessary. For the sake happiness, you know?

Other books which go well with a cuppa (though they are outstanding on their own): Anything by James Herriot, and Jane Austen, for a start. In more contemporary times, I've read and re-read Raffaella Barker's Hens Dancing and Summertime more times than I can remember, both for their daffy fun and their affectionate descriptions of the Norfolk countryside. Reading about the life of bumbling single mother Venetia Summers and her brood of three, I always come away refreshed by the knowledge that at least my life is not quite as crazy as all that. I do admire her pluck, though. Pluck is good!

Now that summer is here, the living may or may not be easy ... but so long as I can find a spot in leafy shade, a good read and a glass of peach iced peachd tea, it will be some fortification for the coming winter doldrums. (Egads, am I already thinking of winter when summer hasn't officially arrived yet?!)

I've been living too long in New England, maybe.

1 comment:

  1. I don't even drink tea, but I adore teapots, tea cups, and pretty china,--and sweets, of course.

    I just got a book called "afternoon tea" by Susannah Blake, which you would love. The photos make my mouth water!