Favorite Tea-Related Shows & Books

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TEA CONTENT TO YOUR HEART’S CONTENT

Here’s a list of tea-related shows and books that have brought me much comfort and joy over the years. 

As a tea lover, it’s inevitable that any kind of tea-related content jumps out at me. Seeing tea scenes on screen often gets me quite excited, and I’ve somehow acquired a pretty impressive collection of books about tea over the years.

Here are some of my favorites!

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

This is an epic and immersive novel about a girl growing up in a Pu’er tea village in Yunnan, who then bravely seeks the world beyond after she has a baby out of wedlock. You can tell the author, Lisa See, has done such painstaking research on this story as tea infuses this entire tale and I learned so many fascinating things about the Akha people and the evolution of the tea industry. 

“Rice is to nourish…tea is to heal. Always remember that food is medicine, and medicine is food. If you take care of the trees, the trees will take care of you.”

Infused: Adventures in Tea by Henrietta Lovell 

Henrietta Lovell is the Rare Tea Lady who founded Rare Tea Company, whose rich and malty Kenyan teas I’ve had the fortune to drink. But after reading the book, now I just want to meet her over tea and listen to all her tea adventures. This collection of stories is a combination of travel writing and confessional memoir conveyed in a charming and witty voice. (I also like how much of a loose-leaf evangelist she is.) 

“Tea has been my soundtrack and my narrative. I dream about tea when I’m not drinking it. It’s there beside me, my most constant companion. I can’t conceive of a morning, let alone a day, without it.”

Sen Genshitsu Talks About the Enjoyment of Tea

Many years ago, I went to Shizuoka, Japan for the World Ocha Festival and spent five days drinking some of the best and freshest Japanese tea with farmers and tea masters. On the last day at the festival bookstore, I wanted to buy a book to help me remember this experience, and fatefully picked up this one. Sen Genshitsu is the 15th-generation Grand Master of Uransenke, and his musings and life lessons here are dispensed like a kind and firm grandfather. At the end of the book are 100 translated verses by his ancestor, Master Rikyu (legendary 16th century tea master), which I find sublime.  

You must learn to acquire your own command of everything. Good or bad, make Tea your own, also. And as you do, your own Tea sensibility will be born. 

A Tea Reader: Living Life One Cup at a Time edited by Katrina Avila Munichiello 

This is a lovely collection of personal essays from tea lovers from all around the world sharing significant tea moments in their lives. It’s the perfect read to remind you that tea is not simply a beverage, but a universal node to nostalgia, decision-making, new beginnings, friendship, dreams and healing. 

“Tea became an entry point for conversations that became very personal. I began to actively seek those moments when a story was filled with the emotional response that had been created by tea.” 

Avatar: The Last Air Bender

Graphic: Nickelodeon

This is an animated series I started watching with my son, and perhaps got even more hooked on this show than him. My favourite character there is Uncle Iroh, a chill and wise army general of the Fire Nation who takes things in his stride. He often uses tea to calm his nephew, Prince Zuko down. His “tea teachings” eventually convince Zuko to turn from a baddie to a hero. I love how his side hustle was owning a tea shop. 

“The best tea tastes delicious whether in a porcelain pot or a tin cup.” 

Disney’s Mulan (Animated or Live Action)

Graphic: Disney Pixar

I’ll always remember the matchmaker scene where Mulan is tested on how gracefully and silently she pours tea but ends up creating a mess. This is a scene that I relate to closely, as someone who is gets pretty clumsy around delicate teaware, so it’s good to know that women these days are (mostly) not judged by such peripheral matters. I especially like the live action version, where Mulan uses her martial arts abilities in an attempt to save the various pieces of teaware. It’s a powerful precursor to what she would be accomplishing later on in the story. 

“Graceful. Elegant. Poised. Polite. These are the qualities we see in a good wife. These are the qualities we see in Mulan. When a wife serves her husband, she must be silent.” 

Mary Poppins 

Graphic: Disney

I’m not sure what it says about me that my favourite tea scenes on screen are all children’s shows, but it is still so enjoyable to see Mary Poppins and her friends having tea suspended in air, especially after the rousing “I love to laugh” song with plenty of hearty laughter. Now how’s that for a tea high? 

“If you’ll just stop behaving like a pack of laughing hyenas!” 

Bonus: I Want My Bubble Tea by The Ann & Ben Show

This is not a book or show, but I find this to be a fitting tribute to my love for bubble (or boba) tea, a very popular beverage in Singapore. The two singers here, Annette Lee and Benjamin Kheng, suitably reflect the urgency to drink bubble tea in the chorus. I feel this ditty needs to get more love globally as well. 

“Boba is my lover/ boba is life/ boba forever, boba be my wife/ I want my bubble tea, bubble tea, bubble tea/ Give me my bubble tea, or I’ll just get it myself!”

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