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Reading “A Tea Reader”

November 14, 2011

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There are books that are enjoyable to read because they are about tea, and books particularly well-suited to a read accompanied by a cup of tea. Katrina Avila Munichiello’s recently published anthology of non-fiction writings about tea, “A Tea Reader,” is both of these. The 52 essays in the book are arranged thematically into five sections, entitled “Tea Reveries,” Tea Connections,” “Tea Rituals,” “Tea Careers,” and “Tea Travels,” each one prefaced by a short introduction written by Munichiello herself. The contributions to the book range in era from a translation of a work written in Tang Dynasty China to writings by contemporary authors solicited for this book.

While all of the writings are thematically linked, centering on tea-inspired memories and the ways that tea forges connections between people, there is enough variety in the writing styles and perspectives to give nearly any reader something he will respond to. Munichiello’s skillful curation and editing have produced a book that is deceptively small in size, while containing a great deal of variation. One of the things that is especially appealing about the book is its flexibility: a reader can either delve into it straight through and traditionally, frontispiece to back cover, or browse among the different essays in capricious order, reading one or two at a time.

My own essay in the book, entitled “Immersion,” and published under my real name, is about my first explorations of Gongfu Cha, and how I fell into a compulsion toward Chinese tea culture. It was an enjoyable piece for me to write, giving me the opportunity to step back and look at a bigger-picture view of my evolution as a person involved in the tea world. I am very proud to see it in this collection alongside works by so many wonderful tea people and writers.

The book is widely available for purchase, and if you’re really fortunate you can attend one of the many reading events taking place across the country. For additional information on the book, visit the “Tea Reader” website.

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