Tea and Poetry
You may or may not know I’ve been taking a creative writing class this term, a poetry workshop/appreciation class rolled into one. Each week we read a book of poems by a contemporary poet; 8 times out of 10, we’ve been able to conference with that poet on Skype during class. It’s sort of like having a personal poetry reading combined with an open Q&A. How cool is that? Writing weekly responses to each book–basically a critical literary review–has been the biggest challenge of my (admittedly short) college career, but it’s also educational and, in a weird way, sort of fun.
This frenzy of poetry appreciation has coincided with a renewed interest in tea. My best homegirl Claire hooked me up with a big box of loose-leaf samples, and soon I followed her lead in joining Steepster, a nice, friendly community of tea-drinkers. It was intimidating to write tasting notes whenever I tried a new tea, but Claire and the tea-people were encouraging. I began to train my palate. Soon I was tasting not just “tea” in the generic sense, but a variety of many subtle and intriguing flavors: squash, mushroom, smoke, leather, grass, grape leaves, rice, raisin, and roses, to name a few.
Tonight, as I searched for the right words to describe the experience of an exceptional new tea blend, it dawned on me that tea and poetry aren’t altogether different. Both rely on the purity of their components. Both are compositions, though one is more for the mouth than for the head and heart. And even when their quality is indisputably high, the tea and poems you really love are always a matter of personal taste rather than what’s Right or Wrong.
And now, a dramatic reading of my latest rhyming epic!
P.S. I managed not to make a single “not my cup of tea” pun. You have no idea how difficult that was for me. You’re welcome.