I was a relatively late convert to tea. I used to prefer coffee and I think my mum, as a dedicated tea-drinker, felt she’d failed in my upbringing. But I redeemed myself when I saw the light and switched from beans to leaves.
Tea features in my novel Cherry Blossom Footsteps. Set in Japan and Hong Kong, tea is a recurring element throughout Lauren’s journey.
Roles that tea plays in the book include . . .
- Restorative, to revive the foot-weary traveller
- Calming to defuse a tense situation or two
- Historical stories coming to life in a tea museum
- The novelty of tea flying across a gorge
- Modern day bubble tea, and
- A formal wedding tea ceremony
In both in Japan and Hong Kong tea is pivotal in society – used to show respect, to celebrate and even to apologise. Tea is such a central part of both Japanese and Chinese culture that it was easy to weave it into many elements of the story.
The Wisdom of Tea
After writing about tea, I was delighted to find a Japanese bestseller – The Wisdom of Tea – has recently been translated into English.
For more than 25 years Noriko Morishita studied and practised the complicated ceremonies of the famous ‘Way of Tea’. This book takes the reader into the intricacies and true meaning of Japanese tea rituals. Noriko writes with much humility and it’s very easy to relate to her experiences. I really enjoyed reading this autobiographical account and its insights into how we can be in this world.
From the back cover blurb:
‘In The Wisdom of Tea Noriko describes her gradual discovery of freedom and insight within the very rules that once seemed so constricting. Looking back across her life, Noriko illuminates the real teachings of the Way of Tea: to live absolutely in the moment, to notice and delight in the smallest of details, to embrace the vital skills of patience and perseverance, and to allow yourself to be.
The Wisdom of Tea is a distillation of the life lessons Noriko learned through many seasons, spanning girlhood to adulthood. It is a wise and inspiring book that reveals the lasting relevance of an ancient ceremony.’
I recommend sitting down with this book, a large pot of your favourite tea and your best china cup. And then, if you haven’t already of course, explore the tea experiences of Japan and Hong Kong in Cherry Blossom Footsteps.