Teaviews Profile: Babette

I grew up with tea every day. But, like most southern families, our tea was iced and pre-sweetened. Never hearing about anything beyond bagged Lipton, tea seemed ordinary while coffee sounded exotic and rare. And as a child, I was fascinated with the equipment of tea. My grandmother displayed a beautiful silver tea service in her dining room. But I don't remember it ever being used. It was a decoration. My mother had been given a set of porcelain teacups that were too fragile to use and were stored in a high cupboard.

Then, one day when I was in my 20's my grandmother invited my mother, aunts and cousins to meet in a small local tearoom. It was The Pear Tree in Pearland, Texas. The tea wasn't memorable but the afternoon was. We celebrated four generations gathered around a table filled with dainty teacups and fancy sandwiches. I remember the pumpkin bread with cream cheese filling and the pimento cheese on dark rye. It was the only time that the women and girls of the family ever gathered this way. Soon after, I left for Europe and found many more tea options and certainly more restaurants that knew how to serve a tasty cuppa.

It wasn't until I returned to school in ceramic arts that I discovered the much larger world of tea. We had to learn to craft a functional teapot and also to sculpturally interpret teapot. I was living in San Francisco at the time and was fortunate to have many different cultural tea experiences readily available. I discovered premium teas from countries all over the world that had been imported by teashop owners who had been to the plantations. I spent hours listening to their stories of how the tea is grown and processed by hand. The legends they told were beautiful and fit comfortably with the way I like to see the world. Tea offers us a worldwide language and culture.

I'm fascinated with the fact that this culture of tea has existed for almost 5000 years. It is the subject of all the arts and I enjoy living with the unanswered question: why? I'm fortunate to be invited to share some of this perspective in a Blog entitled, "The Art and Spirit of Tea" on World Tea News - www.worldteanews.com.

I have also published a series of children's books with tea themes; The Emma Lea Books. They focus on the family experience of tea. I remember the tearoom experience with my family and would like to encourage others to create their own tea traditions. Trying new blends and brands of tea can be just as exciting for children as it is for adults. My days are now filled with visits to schools, libraries and bookstores where I have the privilege to share tea stories with children. I love introducing them to loose leaf teas that open as they infuse. It is my greatest pleasure to be able to tell them something about tea cultures around the world.

I inherited my grandmother's silver tea service. I also have the last of the fragile teacups from my mother's cupboard. Tea tastes so good in them. And I still drink a cup of Lipton every now and then. There is a rich history in that tea and it inspires many of my own precious memories. And The Pear Tree is still in business in Pearland, Texas. They've moved to larger location and expanded their menu over the last 30ish years. Like many remarkable tearooms, they continue to host generations of special events and favorite memories.

Website: http://www.worldteanews.com

Babette's Favorite Tea Products

Rishi Tea Matcha     10/10
TeaGschwender China Yin Zhen Silver Needles     10/10
TeaGschwendner China Lung Ching     9.5/10
Rishi Tea Green Oolong Powdered Tea     9/10
Boulder Tea Kabuse Sencha     8.5/10
Mighty Leaf Sundance     8/10
Stash Decaf Pumpkin Spice     8/10
Drink the Leaf Keemun Hao Ya A     7.5/10
Stash Earl Green (Loose)     7.5/10
Rishi Tea Dong Ding Oolong     7.5/10

Recent Posts by Babette:

Review: Rishi Tea Green Oolong Powdered Tea     30 Mar 2009
Review: Mighty Leaf Sundance     16 Mar 2009
Review: Drink the Leaf Keemun Hao Ya A     28 Feb 2009
Review: Stash Earl Green (Loose)     27 Feb 2009
Review: Rishi Tea Matcha     24 Feb 2009
Review: Stash Double Spice Chai (Bagged)     18 Feb 2009
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