This week: TeaEdited by: Robert Waltz
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You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.
― C.S. Lewis
I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.
― Fyodor Dostoevsky
“Take some more tea," the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
"I've had nothing yet," Alice replied in an offended tone, "so I can't take more."
"You mean you can't take less," said the Hatter: "it's very easy to take more than nothing."
"Nobody asked your opinion," said Alice.”
― Lewis Carroll
Today, I wanted to serve up some tea.
While the idea of soaking leaves in water and drinking the result is probably a very old one, true tea seems to have come into being sometime after the rise of civilization. This may lead one to wonder how civilization could truly be called such before there was tea, because are you truly civilized if you don't have tea?
But here, have some tea about tea from Wikipedia.
That article is long and seems fairly comprehensive, and there are plenty of references at the bottom. So I won't reiterate it here except to sum up: tea is everywhere, and there's a lot of variety to it.
What I'm most interested in for this newsletter is not so much the dry (pun intended) facts as the cultural practices revolving around this, the world's most popular beverage apart from water.
Food and drink are more than just sustenance for us humans; there are rituals involved in obtaining, preparing, serving, and consuming such things. Rituals such as: the trip to the market, the steps used in preparation, the utensils that are used, and the expectation of certain table manners. Some of these are purely practical, but others serve a social function.
I think we'd be hard-pressed (again, pun intended) to think of any product that has more ritual surrounding it than tea. People take that stuff seriously. Add the tea leaves to the hot water, or pour the hot water over the leaves? What cups are proper for which teas? Should milk be involved? Is iced tea supposed to be sweet? (I live in the southern US, so the answer to that for everyone who's not me is a resounding "Of course it is, what are you, some kind of weirdo? Bless your heart.")
The Wiki link I provided above gives a brief overview of tea culture around the world, with a further link to a stand-alone page devoted entirely to how tea is prepared and served in different countries.
The fun part for Fantasy writers, in my opinion, is adapting these rituals to our stories, or coming up with our own. What do such things say about the cultures involved? About the characters? What happens when a character from a different culture does something gauche in someone's highly ritualized tea ceremony?
Wars have been started over these things, and I don't just mean the one where boxes of tea ended up in Boston Harbor.
We're fortunate to live in a time when tea from all over the world is readily available, so we tend to take it for granted. But it's another thing to explore in writing, preferably while savoring a nice hot Darjeeling.
Some fantasy for your afternoon (or morning or whenever) tea:
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Last time, in "Writing" , I wrote about writing.
Write 2 Publish 2020 : I heard the comparison before. Who would have thought we’d be talking with emojis and gifs.
*headscratch* *puzzledface* *shrug*
brom21 : Writing being a modern invention struck a chord with me. Stories passed by orally is old. The written craft on the other hand is easier be improved and extensively composed. The Bible is not stories for entertainment but it may be the first book created. I should look that up. lol. Thanks for the NL!
Couldn't bother looking it up, either, but as I recall, at least one book (The Epic of Gilgamesh) predates the Bible and probably influenced some of it.
That's it for me for July! Until next time, grab a cup of tea and
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