Recently I was reading my friend Steph's tea blog when I came across two pieces of delicious news: 1) There was a new tea book out, called "A Tea Reader," described as "an anthology of readings for tea lovers" and 2) she had an essay in it! Naturally, I called my local bookstore and had them order the book so it would arrive as soon as it was released.
Now I have to be honest and tell you this: I am not a huge fan of anthologies. My favorite books are non-fiction, but I normally like them to be on one narrow topic by one author. I anticipated (correctly!) that I would enjoy the book's essay by Steph(anie), because her style of writing is what attracted me to her blog. The great surprise with "A Tea Reader," though, is that I have thoroughly enjoyed so very many of these essays and, in fact, found myself wishing this book had been my idea! My hat is definitely off to Katrina Ávila Munichiello for beautifully pulling together such a rich and entertaining group of essays. I can't imagine how much reading must have been required in order for her to write this book!
Interestingly, as I was reading the book I thought about how much I was enjoying the essays from the past. As I sat down to write this mini-review of the book, however, it was the modern-day essayists I found myself recalling, and how much I enjoyed their stories. Which ones?
-- Surely you can guess which essay is my favorite! It's about a young woman who moves to a new town and finds her heart longing to make connections with other women. (Ironically enough, that writer has since moved on to another new town ... where one suspects she will again succeed at making new friends and new tea connections. You can read about one of her latest tea adventures here.)
-- I was very touched to read about the woman whose father was undergoing chemotherapy and they shared simple mugs of grocery-store tea at the doctor's office.
-- The former owner of a New Orleans café writes about heading to Magazine Street post-Katrina to see what became of the café, and then discusses plans for his tea business of the future. I loved learning that his very first two tea customers had been a Bourbon Street dancer and a Catholic priest. Only in New Orleans!
-- I also enjoyed reading about an art student who enjoyed the Japanese tea ceremony at the home of her professor. In fact, after reading some of the stories in this book I found myself quite interested in hosting a Tea Ceremony that is pointedly *not* a tea party!
-- The book also includes a good number of essays from "tea celebrities," names you would recognize. These were fun, and I think you will enjoy being surprised just as I was.
I could, but won't, go on. Mostly I just wanted to say that if you're like me and have been anthology-averse, "A Tea Reader" is the book that will make you change your mind. Now that I've read it, I look forward to re-reading it!