An NYC Book Signing with Oscar Brekell

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Last week I had the opportunity to attend a book signing with Oscar Brekell, author of The Book of Japanese Tea, at T Shop. My work schedule has a bad habit of keeping me from my attending tea events so it was a pleasant surprise when this signing coincided with my day off. The weather has already become quiet chilly but this was a beautiful, slightly warm sunny day. I took some time to wander around SoHo a bit before heading to the shop.

I arrived early so I ordered a cup of a lovely moonlight white tea from Yunnan. It had exactly the cooling and relaxing effect that I was looking for. As always, T Shop’s teaware selection was a big source of temptation. They had a blue gaiwan that really caught my eye. It was absolutely gorgeous to look at but the price tag was outside of my budget.

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Oscar expertly brewed two selections from his recently launched line of teas. “The First” was an aptly named way to start off our tasting session. It was so aromatic that I was entranced from across the table. This is the first tea that I have tried that was made with the Kondowase cultivar, a cross between Yabukita and a Inzatsu 131. The Assamica side of its family tree was truly apparent in the strength of this tea. It was a real umami bomb with a lingering floral aftertaste. The second tea that we tried was the poetically dubbed “Misty Mountain”, a Sayamakaori from Ohira. It was lighter bodied and had more astringency but I still found it very enjoyable.

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I was already a big fan of his book but Oscar’s dedication to making it happen was truly inspiring. A lot of hard work and sleepless nights went into sharing all of this information with us. I knew that the book was bilingual, being in both Japanese and English, but I did not know that the everything was done without the assistance of a translator. It is even more impressive when you consider that neither language is his native tongue.

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If you enjoy Japanese teas and would like to learn more about them, do yourself a favor and get this book! Although it is a fairly slim volume there is a ton of information that you will not find anywhere else. It will definitely be a frequently used point of reference for me when writing blog posts.