Matcha, I think, is spring in a cup. There are restless signs of spring all around me now. The lemon balm has brand new leaves, downy as a baby’s crown, cyclamen are like daubs of red paint amongst the weeds and I keep thinking I should be outside, tending to the riot.
Tea promotes concentration. Tea merchants and tea news sites, all are telling us this same thing. In turn concentration promotes creativity, and, artists assure us, there is a great deal of concentration needed to produce a single creative work.
I can’t help notice, while I am reading about tea, how I’m treated to the kind of writing that, well at least for me, makes reading worthwhile. What I’m reading makes me pause, linger over the use of metaphor or maybe an unfamiliar word. To sip rather than to gulp or drain. This ability, to arrest, to ambush the reader, or the thirsty, by producing delight or intrigue, is the art of writing. It is also the art of tea. It is the way in which the tea leaf is grown, then in how it is processed and, lastly, how it is brewed which causes delight and intrigue.
I try to keep a notebook and pen with me when I am reading these days. If I forget, then inevitably, when I return for that impressive jewel of written word, it’s never on the page where I thought I left it!
Here are a few of my favourite things:
Matcha: froth of the liquid jade.*
“Darjeeling has poise rather than the bounce of other Indian teas, patience over velocity, and, like the finest female vocalists, can carry body as well as subtlety and grace. Its quiet, unadulterated elegance lingers on the palate.” – Jeff Koehler (Darjeeling: A History of the World’s Greatest Tea)
“Pure enchantment in a cup.” – Sri Lanka Tea Board.
“Life is like a cup of tea it’s all in how you make it.” – Stir Tea.
“Tea is associated with reverence and beauty and restraint.” – Samuel Pepys
“She reached across her desk and poured Mma Ramotswe a cup of tea. Then she cut into a large fruit cake which was on a plate to the side of the tea tray. ‘This cake is made by our senior girls,’ she said. ‘We train them to cook’.
Mma Ramotswe accepted her large slice of cake and looked at the rich fruit within it. There were at least 700 calories in that, she thought, but it did not matter; she was a traditionally built lady and she did not have to worry about such things.” – Alexander McCall Smith (Morality for Beautiful Girls)
“Tea is more than merely a drink – it’s a soother and an energizer, a marker of time and a measure of it, present at the most quotidian moments of daily life and at the most special. It seeps into life, and sustains it.” – Jeff Koehler
“… alluring layers of flavour …” and “tea inspired” – Dilmah
* Froth of the liquid jade: I found this beautiful image somewhere in ‘Green Gold The Empire of Tea’, by Alan Macfarlane and Iris Macfarlane – I think …