Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"Jasmine Nights & Monkey Pluck: Love, Discovery and Tea"

Just when I think I've run out of tea books to read, I learn about a new one, or in this case, an old one. Thanks to my friend Frivolitea's blog, I recently read a review of Jasmine Nights & Monkey Pluck: Love, Discovery and Tea (Floreant Press, 2002). I located a used copy online, and soon I was holding a lovely paperback book with a pretty green cover. The premise of this title is intriguing. Three women collaborated on the book and "sent pictures of teacups to writers and poets and invited them to create work containing a sense of abundance, pieces that celebrate the ironies and simple pleasures of daily life."

The book includes a wide range of essays and poetry, and I definitely had my favorites, such as a piece titled "Sacrament" by Robin Beeman, who writes, "Tea implies a moment to oneself, a time to cast your gaze inward while still being present in the world, a time to give thanks." And Sandra Kazanjian's humorous "Coming to Tea" made me smile as a woman ponders the various teas she "should" be serving to an overly-chatty visitor, only to realize she is serving "the perfect tea – Constant Comment." (I have a few friends like that! Don't you wish people came with an "off button" sometimes?)

If you read this book, you might be surprised, as I was, that the essays aren't all sweetness and light. Yes, some essays may speak of a childhood tea or a magical Pagoda Teapot, but others explore some of the darker sides of life: cancer, apartheid, a lost love. The range of topics was surprising, and I found the variety of selections quite thoughtful. Reading this book was a reminder for me to, in the words of essayist Janelle Va Melvin, "mindfully consume life's constant and endless refills."


  1. Oh, this sounds like a book I would keep and savor over and over again.

    Taking time for tea does often cause one to ponder the intricacies of life.

  2. Hello Angela
    The title of the book had me, I have to come and read what you'd posted. This sounds like a wonderful, thought provoking book along with some inspiring pleasantries.

  3. VERY different kind of tea book.

    I will try to find it somewhere just to take a look.

  4. Hi Angela! So glad you liked this book. You write the best reviews!

  5. Thanks for reviewing this book, Angela. I read about it on Frivolitea and it's on my list.

  6. How fascinating! I would love the story of the chatty visitor. I would have served that visitor chamomile to calm them. Do you think it would have helped.

  7. With a title like that, the book is intriguing.


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