by, Eugene Docena, Corp. Secretary

“…tea is something that always makes you feel a little bit better and more civilized.”

–James Norwood Pratt, Author of New Tea Lover’s Treasury

In recent years, many Californians have become tea drinkers. In less than five years, Tea Houses have grown in number in the Southern California area. Tea, once America’s staple beverage, during British rule, is now returning as its most popular delight.

I had the pleasure in interviewing James Norwood Pratt, one of the leading authorities of Tea in the world – discussing Americans as “the New Tea Lovers.” Mr. James Pratt, or Norwood, had began his “romance” with tea thirty years ago, before writing his first book – the first book on tea in over fifty years, in the US.  He says that he was just as ignorant about it as the new tea drinkers when he began, and becoming an authority over it was not intended. He was a student of tea, and could not help but spread the love of it. He gained a readership through his books, and had made enjoying tea his career.

I had mentioned to Norwood that our youth are enjoying tea due to the fact of popular subcultures like Steampunk, and new movies such as Alice in Wonderland. Although, this new generation returns to tea not for the flavor, as so many have alternatively to coffee, but due to its effects and rituals.

“The new generation seem to be drinking tea as an eventful practice,” I said. And Norwood added, “..a quiet event. The love for it makes us feel.”

According to him,  “(Tea) is simple…I like simplicity, and I like pleasure…and how many art forms are there that lets you have both so cheap?”

As we continued, he was at the moment drinking a Royal Gold Yunan Tea, a black tea, packed with unopened leaf buds – one of the most exquisite of China’s collections,  found only in the deepest valley in the world: the Yunan province of China. He explained his outstanding experience in learning about this exotic tea relying on the weather conditions, depending on the year’s conditions to give us a good or bad batch, and encourages everyone to enjoy the freshest flavors to explore. As tea drinkers, “we need to know.”

This year, the U.S. has the greatest pleasure of obtaining the first flush of Darjeeling Tea, the freshest in the world! Darjeeling is considered the champagne of tea, and it is ours to enjoy before Christmas. Because of this, there is a “cause for rejoicing! We have a wonderful thing to look forward to…this beautiful plant. We have an ally for life.”

Darjeeling is his afternoon tea of choice, thus far.

He recommends for new tea enthusiasts “to find out what you can, what you can enjoy!” His books are a good starting point in ones journey to enjoying the variety and beauty of tea and tea lore — published internationally, translated in multiple languages, including Chinese and French. They are a good read, and I highly recommend them too: www.teasociety.org

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