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 quite 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.
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.
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.
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.