Saturday, May 22, 2010
Tea and Books Saturday #21 - "Loving Tea"
By Jane Resnick
Berkley Books, 1997
Jane Resnick's "Loving Tea" is one of the few tea books I've come across that is a mass market paperback, the size of those romance novels and mysteries you find at the grocery store. But don't look down on it just because it's not a fancy hardback, for this is one terrific tea book and offers lots of great info, much food for thought, a wealth of information on herbal teas, and even some new teatime recipes to try.
I even liked the chapter titles, like "Torturing for Taste: How Tea is Manufactured" and "Graciousness, Greed, and Gunfire: The History of Tea." I believe it helped that I approached this book as one with some basic background knowledge of tea. I would not recommend this as a "beginner" tea book but rather as a book for the "intermediate" tea drinker/enjoyer. There is, for instance, a helpful chapter on terms used in describing tea, and I think tea newbies would be fairly lost here while more experienced tea drinkers will say "Yes, that's the word I've been looking for!"
Herb lovers will find much to enjoy here, as there are several chapters devoted to herbal teas. One chapter offers tips for making your own herbal teas, and I learned that a tea made of only one herb is called a "simple." Those made with two or more herbs are called a "blend," and the author recommends "simpling" (love that word!) before blending. She also describes a few of the various tea ceremonies and says one of the elements included in the Chinese tea ceremony is a broken fan. Why broken? "Traditionally, a rattan fan was used to revive the fire. The broken part is in regard to an ancient Chinese belief that 'Nothing can be perfect unless it includes one tiny imperfection.'" My fellow quilters will note the similarity with the quilter's belief in the "humility block," the idea that a quilt should contain one imperfect block because only God is perfect.
Near the end of the book, Resnick quotes a famous monk who talked about bringing "awareness" to our enjoyment of tea in order not to miss our "appointment with life." (That sounds like something our thoughtful tea friend Marilyn Miller would say!) Such thoughtfulness fills this book, and it's one I think many of you would enjoy.