My Life With Tea
The name of my new blog makes a nod to Helen Gustafson’s memoir, The Agony of the Leaves: The Ecstasy of My Life with Tea. Her book, published in 1996, had a big impact on me when I read it sometime in the late 1990s. The lively and charmingly illustrated volume recounts Gustafson’s life through the lens of tea. I read the book about twenty years ago, so the details of the writing have faded in my memory, but the joy and interest with which I engaged her story stay with me still.
I remember a visit to London in 1998 where my husband and I searched out a small museum called the Bramah Tea & Coffee Museum. It was a charming, small museum which gave me my first picture of the scope of tea history. While there, I took the opportunity to talk with the museum’s founder, Edward Bramah. I told him about Gustafson’s book which I had recently read and enjoyed. When I asked if he had met Helen Gustafson he replied with a smile, “Who hasn’t met Helen Gustafson?!” This was my first inkling that a love of tea could introduce me to many interesting characters both in the U.S. and abroad.