I'm a little behind on posting in the tea blog-a-thon, but I want to sneak this one in before moving on. This is my Week 2 post, but Week 3 has already begun. La-tea-dah asked participants to share a book about tea.
My encounters with characters "taking tea" started at a very young age. Some of my favorites were mentioned by other bloggers, such as Bilbo's unusual tea party in the early pages of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. I read Louisa May Alcott's Under The Lilacs at a very young age, and in the first few pages encountered a tea party in disarray. And I worried over Lucy in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis as she accepted an invitation to tea from Mr. Tumnus. I enjoyed those moments so much that I read all of these books aloud to my daughters when they were little girls.
I would like to share a few passages from a tea book that I encountered only a few years ago. In the very early 1950s, Monica Lang wrote her memoir, Invitation to Tea, which tells of her life as a young wife on a tea plantation in India. During the years the story covers, Monica encountered elephants and jungle plants, wrestled with malaria, and raised a petting zoo's worth of animals, including both a lamb and a baby tiger. Here is just a tiny glimpse, regarding the growing of tea.
"In a short canter we turned a slight bend in the path and the plantation suddenly came into view. Involuntarily I drew a deep breath and reined my horse. A huge expanse of soft rolling green like an immense carpet stretched into the distance as far as the eye could see. On either hand whichever way one looked the same lovely green expanse stretched to the jungle edge. Tall trees interspersed the acres of short green bushes and in the far distance the Himalayan snows in all their glory were visible against the bright blue sky. I was spellbound."
"With the advent of the hot weather came also what was known as the first "flush" of the tea. The days of cultivation, hoeing, pruning, were over for another cold season, and plucking and manufacture took on an aspect of twenty-four hours a day. I had thought during the cold weather that the life of a planter was what one might call "full." Now I gained a greater knowledge of just what that life comprised."
"Never again shall I be able to look at a package of tea without a slight contraction of the heart, for I know how much of a man's very soul goes into the making of those crisp black leaves."
photos by Aisling March 25, 2008 1) books and teapot 2) inside cover art from Invitation to Tea by Monica Lang, Peoples Book Club, Chicago, Copyright 1952