One doesn’t generally stand in silence enveloped by tranquility when walking a trade show floor; and yet that is exactly how I found myself in Las Vegas when I stopped to see Michele Brody’s ‘Reflections in Tea’ art installation. She was inspired by the tradition of drinking and sharing tea throughout the world. When she started her project, she invited participants to share a cup of tea with her served in paper tea filters and then transcribe their conversation onto stained bags that had been dried and flattened. This resulted in her paper quilt.
Brody’s art inspired World Tea to use her art as a way of reaching out to the people of Japan after the earthquake and tsunami. Delegates were invited to write a message of hope or prayer onto the stained filters to be hung and make a donation to the relief fund. The display was truly breathtaking and beautiful and serene in every way possible.
Brody is now taking her exhibit to New York where she will cover the walls of the Hudson Guild Gallery with 500 of these messages on stained paper that from a distance will form a rolling landscape – and up close will show messages inspired by tea drinking.
As much as tea touches my life every single day, I am still in awe of how it inspires beauty and serenity and community above all else.
Yes, it’s Father’s Day on Sunday. The quiet little celebration between Victoria Day and Canada Day. A sometimes forgotten holiday that has us spending $5.2 billion less on gifts than we do on the other parent…our mothers! There has been all sorts of pontification about why that is, why we celebrate our mothers more than our fathers, but let’s face it, pontification is all it will ever be. The holiday was started in 1910 to a not very receptive audience. It was mocked mercilessly. Let’s face it, even the poor tie has gotten a bad rap as a gift of any sort as it has been associated so poorly with the ‘standard Father’s Day gift’.
So this year, we propose you throw out the go-to necktie gift, forget the million gadgets dad has…and give him the gift of tea. Pay tribute to the man who is the strong silent one. The man who pulled out the thesaurus at 11pm to help you with your science project you forgot about. The rock who looked at you and didn’t quite know what to say when your heart was broken for the first time.
Say thank you with the same strength and silence that he has shared his love for you with. The quiet peaceful strength and wisdom of a cup of tea.
The Tea Emporium took part at the Las Vegas Convention Centre for the World Tea Expo just this past weekend, from June the 1st to the 3rd. Here is a small smattering of the many photos that were taken during the three-day event.
Shabnam Weber delivered a talk on the morning of the 1st. ‘How to Compete with the Big Guys‘ was the title of her presentation, and her aim was to give those who own small tea shops a leg up against some of the bigger tea companies who want to open a chain of stores in every corner, Starbucks-style.
One of the highlights of her trip was meeting the legendary James Norwood Pratt of Tea Society Classics. His article, Love the Leaf (Why and How Coffee Shops Should Do Tea), is one of the many articles this widely-read author on tea has written. Julie Beals, editor-in-chief of Fresh Cup Magazine, writes of James, “After a short time with Norwood, one becomes imbued with the notion of tea as poetry, both being art forms that require reverence and reflection to fully appreciate.” A thorough reading of his many articles and literature on tea proves exactly this.
As Shabnam approached James Norwood Pratt to say hello, there was a look of recognition from the man himself, evidently aware of the work Shabnam Weber does with the Tea Sommelier Program in Canada. James has even expressed interest in taking her course, much to an incredulous Shabnam, who exclaimed, “There is absolutely nothing I can teach you about tea! Nothing!”
Laughs and smiles were shared, as evidenced by this very star-struck Shabnam, who describes her meeting James Norwood Pratt as something akin to meeting The Beatles.
And they say tea drinkers don’t know how to have fun… 😉