Casually, you may order Tea in your nearest Coffee shop or convenient market, enjoying a cup to yourself – the aromatic flavors, such as, English Breakfast, Green Tea, or Chamomile fluttering through your nostrils, easing your tension like a good back massage. It’s therapy in tiny leaves, packed in a box, ready to be served under hot, steamy water. But is there more to it than just that?
Last Saturday, Azure Lorica attended the LA International Tea Festival in Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles. The two day event brought Tea vendors across the U.S., Tea Authorities, and the flavors of China, Japan, India, and places across the globe in one central location. Workshops, and Panels, and Lectures were presented; and everyone had the chance to taste a new flavor with their free tea cup inside the beautiful venue of the Japanese American Museum. It was an experience worth attending, as you were able to meet Tea enthusiasts and Tea authorities alike – sharing a pot, and urn, a good steep of, you guessed it, Tea.
One unique authority in this festival is a man named James Norwood Pratt (or Norwood, as he’s known). This man was the first Tea Sage of U.S.A. Beginning his career around 1982, publishing his famous book: The Tea Lover’s Treasury, Norwood was the authority in all things to do with Tea during his time of Tea ventures. Businesses called him for recommendations, explanations, practically being the walking dictionary we now hold dear in this booming culture of American Tea Enthusiasts. His books have become the manual for all the Tea shops, new and old, for serving the perfect blend for every palette now known to Tea Drinkers worldwide. Studying under India and China’s expert manufacturers, Norwood has been able to bring Tea to not only a sophisticated level of popularity and respect, but to the longing public who’s taste beyond coffee has parched.
What drives Norwood moreso is not the elitism of Tea, as so many have deemed its status in society, but the friendships it creates among people from all walks of life. Tea, contrary to belief, is not for just the sophisticated. It is sophisticated, but it is for everyone to enjoy, and should be with taste.
After a conversation, after Norwood’s Tea Sommelier Course, we managed to capture a concise message from the legend himself, for the new generation of Tea Drinkers. To enjoy the drink, to share the drink, and to spread the word that this is something that we should all partake under friendship, unity, and pleasantries. He is excited to know that Tea has a younger audience, that sharing Tea is not going to be just a house hold commodity, but an experience among people for special and casual occasions. Tea is something that Norwood strives to continue as an art form, not just another Starbucks run, but a piece of work that you can experiment with, and lavish your friends and family with your favorite concoction of warm or hot or cold brew, as steep or shallow or pressed, in a cup or pot or urn…or mug — do as you will, as it is ours to share.
Norwood wishes for everyone to enjoy Tea, and look forward to the friendships it makes.
You can find more information about James Norwood Pratt, Tea Sage online: jamesnorwoodpratt.com