Tea books abound, as fellow blogger William I. Lengeman III has shown on this blog in his monthly postings about the latest of them. And I have learned to “just say no” when it comes to offers to review new ones. I would be spending time on nothing else. However, a little book called Tea Wisdom by Aaron Fisher from Tuttle Publishing was too enticing to give the brush off.
On the day this little book arrived by post, the atmosphere went from doldrums to excitement in a flash. I opened the package, admired the cover design (not a teabag in sight), flipped through the pages briefly to get a feel for the contents, and then laid it on the dining room table away from any dangers of spillage or other damage-causing elements. Off I trotted to the kitchen to put the kettle on for tea. (How can you read a book about tea without having some tea to sip on?) I swear I was only out of the room a minute, two at the most. Here’s the sight that awaited me on my return to the dining room:
Now, I’ve mentioned before on this blog that teapots tend to gather and discuss the humans they steep tea for (I wouldn’t dare say that humans own teapots – that’s like saying that humans own cats, which could never be since cats always choose us, never the other way around, and so it is with teapots). So, it should come as no surprise to you that I found several teapots gathered around that little book and holding a rather heated discussion that went something like this:
- Brown teapot (aka “Mr. Dragon”): “That teapot on the cover looks a bit like me.”
- White teapot (aka “Li’l One Cupper”): “Does not. Looks like Little Yellow Teapot’s dad.”
- Large teapot (aka “Bruno”): “How do you know, Li’l One Cupper, since you never seen him?”
- Black teapot (aka “Castie the Cast Iron Teapot”): “It sure looks like how he was described.”
- Mr. Dragon: “Nah……I’m telling you it looks more like me. Observe the stubby spout.”
- Yellow teapot (aka “Little Yellow Teapot”): “Who cares? It’s what’s inside that counts. Lots of tea wisdom from around the globe. It’s wisdom from humans, not teapots. Maybe for their next book they’ll consult some of us or our cousins from afar. TOOOT!”
That debate being over, I chased them all back to their places, finished steeping a nice hot pot of Keemun Panda, and sat down to sip tea and read all that tea wisdom. Here are some favorite passages:
- “Whenever friends and family sit around a table, a cup of fragrant tea will lend its rich aroma and warm presence to any occasion.” – Ling Wang (p. 18)
- “Though I cannot flee / From the world of corruption, / I can prepare tea / With water from a mountain stream / And put my heart to rest.” – Ueda Akinara (p. 31)
- “[I am] a hardened and shameless tea drinker, who has for twenty years diluted his meals only with the infusion of this fascinating plant; whose kettle has scarcely time to cool; who with tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces the midnight, and with tea welcomes the morning.” – Samuel Johnson (p. 65)
- “Our camp-kettle, filled from the brook, hummed doubtfully for a while, then busily bubbled under the sidelong glare of the flames; cups clinked and rattled, the fragrant steam ascended, and soon this little circlet in the wilderness grew aswarm [sic] and genial as my lady’s drawing room.” – Alexander Kinglake (p. 99)
- “Spring scenery is as beautiful as it could be, / Flowers in full bloom in the land of tea. / Beautiful Xishuangbanna is on its soar, / Puerh tea will show its brilliance once more.” – Yang Jiang Ming (p. 177) [Note: Xishuangbanna is an area in the Yunnan Province of China; the area is home to several mountains famous for the exquisite teas grown on them, and pu-erh teas are their specialty.]
Tea Wisdom is a small book with beautiful photos, larger print (but not huge), and a wealth of wisdom about tea. It is perfect for a tea moment of just you, a cuppa, and the wisdom of the ages. The author has traveled in many of the world’s best tea producing areas and now resides in Taiwan, famous for its oolongs (try the Formosa oolong sometime – heaven!). Small wonder the teapots were drawn to it like moths to a light!
See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.
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