Our purpose in writing this book was to share our passion for the tea ceremony as it is celebrated all over the world. We want to encourage and support those who are already familiar with the tea ritual and to provide continuing education, ideas, menus and recipes. We also hope to inspire readers who may know nothing about Afternoon Tea but would like to learn about this ancient international form of hospitality.
We believe that the internet can be a medium through which creativity and friendship can be celebrated and encouraged, so we have decided to become bloggers. In our little corner of cyber space, we intend to construct a safe, cozy, warm and comfortable place, a bit like a Hobbit’s den or an ivy covered cottage where a roaring fire wards off the cold of a winter afternoon and friends share steaming cups of tea and hot buttered scones in a gentle setting where kindness and trust prevail.
Since cyber space lives everywhere, we will not be limited by earthly geography. We will share Kona coffee shortbread and dark chocolate macadamia nut truffles as the trade winds waft through the coconut palms on a secluded beach on the east shore of Oahu. We will bend our heads in humility as we enter an ancient Japanese tea house in a leafy green garden where the maples are just turning a deep sunset red. There we will sip green tea and speak in quiet voices of our exquisite joy, tinged with sweet melancholy, as summer slips into autumn.
How did Kathleen and I find these lovely places? How did we come to our knowledge of Afternoon Tea? Our lives have lead us here. We are not isolated, deluded old ladies. We have had our share of sadness, disappointment, conflict and loss. But we choose not to spend our days talking obsessively about ourselves and dwelling in darkness. Afternoon Tea, after all, is the opposite of narcissism, and our upbringings and life experiences have taught us that generous sharing is the antidote to all of life’s sorrows.
Kathleen’s education focused on Art, and she excels at photography, drawing, textiles and collage design. But it is the culinary arts that have been her life’s work. She has been a cooking school teacher, a chef, a proprietor of a Bed and Breakfast, a caterer and wedding planner. She creates Wedding and Anniversary Cakes and caters Tea Parties and other celebratory events. As her doting aunt, I believe I have the right to say that Kathleen knows everything there is to know about the wonders that can be created in the kitchen. She is also a fabulous collaborator. Many of her projects are completed in cooperation with her extensive net of like-minded culinary experts. I feel privileged to be one of her co-workers, and I loved writing Sharing Tea: The Road Back to Civilization with Kathleen.
My career focused on education. I taught English, literature, poetry and creative writing at Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, California, for many years. Upon my retirement, I was drafted by the Diocese of San Jose to teach adult religious education and to coordinate spiritual activities for adults in my local parish. During both of my careers, I traveled extensively and engaged in creative writing and poetry, keeping travel journals and enjoying Afternoon Tea in every culture I visited. I also loved baking, and my yearly Christmas dessert party was my humble claim to fame, if only among my friends and family members. After the deaths of our parents, for whom we were responsible, my husband Wayne and I decided to retire and move to Hawaii. Here we are in rural Oahu where we can watch the sunrise over the ocean every morning from our bed. It is never cold here, and the local food fills Wayne’s heart with happy memories of his childhood in Japan.
It is also here in Hawaii that I wrote Sharing Tea: The Road Back to Civilization with Kathleen through the magic of email. Kathleen, who lives in northern California, is responsible for many of the menus and recipes in our book while I focused on the research, background information and editing. Since we both love to write, we will continue to communicate with our readers through our blogs. Mine will be entitled “Travels and Tea,” and Kathleen’s will be named “???” Both can be accessed through our website: myteaplanner.com.
To conclude my first blog, I would like to share an essay I wrote many years ago at the request of my colleague and friend, J. Sterling Warner, co-author of the college textbook, Visions Across the Americas. Sterling asked me to write a Cause and Effect essay to help students in English writing classes to improve their critical thinking and rhetorical skills when engaging in literary analysis and expository writing. An entire generation of college students have read this essay, but I believe that its message affirming the value of authentic, culture-based foods still resonates today. I hope you will enjoy reading “Eating With Immigrants” and that you will see how it connects with the Philosophy of Tea, our guiding principle when Kathleen and I wrote Sharing Tea: The Road Back to Civilization.