Before we dive into some poe-tea, here is an overview of the different styles:
Below are some notable poems and quotes where the theme of tea resonates with us here at Harney & Sons.
“The very act of preparing and serving tea encourages conversation. The little spaces in time created by teatime rituals call out to be filled with conversation. Even the tea itself–warm and comforting-inspires a feeling of relaxation and trust that fosters shared confidences.”
--Emilie Barnes, If Teacups Could Talk
In this free-verse excerpt from her book, Barnes captures the power of tea when shared with others, promoting communication and positivity. Time together over a cup of tea causes conversations to bloom and laughs to be shared. The tea has the qualities to encourage a few moments for relaxation, having us step away from our busy schedules and enjoy each other’s company.
"There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims
Emerson captured the craft of the tea-cup in this short poetic clause, included in his book Letters and Social Aims, written in 1860. The same way a library carries a range of books and stories, the tea chest carries a variety of blends, with different flavors, aromas, and countries of origin. The mixtures speak for themselves.
"Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage."
The master tea-blenders at Harney and Sons have traveled to great lengths and across oceans to collect new ingredients for their collection. Our mission is to provide a cultural experience as the tea steeps. Author Catherine Douzel reminds us that we don’t have to venture far to enjoy one of the world’s generous creations: tea.
"Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of toast and tea"
English-American poet T.S. Eliot portrayed this scene in his most famous work, “The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock”. Eliot describes a morning tea-time ritual, where we start the day. Prior to the day’s agenda, constant communication, and revising, we take time to enjoy a cup of tea. Although tea unites us, our solo time with a cup in hand is just as powerful.
"Immortals, hear, said Jove, and cease to jar! Tea must succeed to Wine as Peace to War. Nor by the grape let man be set at odds, but share in Tea, the nectar of the Gods."
--Peter Anthony Motteaux, A Poem Upon Tea
English author Peter Anthony Motteaux expressed how tea is a saving grace. In comparison to wine, each drink consists of a detailed harvesting process, where experts and blenders work hard to produce a delightful product. There are a lot of hearts and minds behind every cup.
"If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty."
Many of our green teas are from Japan, providing pleasant flavor and enriching antioxidants. This proverb captures the motive here at Harney: gathering ingredients, redefining blends, and incorporating beauty to offer one spectacular product for all.
"We cannot live without our cup of tea,
It’s the staple drink throughout all the earth,
And it is a healthy drink for all you see
Therefore people drink it for all its worth.
Green tea with a slice of lemon is best
But now lapsang souchong, that roasted brew,
Is a drink that does not taste like the rest
Though people drink black tea leaving it to stew.
Tea can bring the world closer together
It can often sooth the nerves and make you calm
And can be drunk whatever the weather
It is that one drink that does you no harm.
Tea is a healthy drink for everyone
It has a delightful taste second to none."
-- David Wood
The first stanza (the first four lines) in this sonnet expresses the necessity that is tea: a drink with many benefits and qualities, that arose from our Earth. Then, Wood depicts the different types, which carry various kinds of flavors and accents. In the final stanza, the superpower of tea is revealed: being enjoyed no matter the weather or the amount of company. The rhyming couplet provokes feelings of inclusivity, which is the perfect way to end this ode to tea!
As a trailblazer for Language Poetry, Michael Gottieb includes content that echoes the objectivist tradition. Close friend of the Harney family, Michael features a multitude of poems centered around meaning, life, and form. This poem is taken from his book Mostly Clearing, which is one of twenty he has written in his career.
“Between the Moment and Eternity” by Kim Young
On Mike’s travels to Korea earlier this year, he reconnected with a great friend, Kim Young. Her book, “The World Is So Beautiful”, includes poems about the simple pleasures of life, as well as the scenic views throughout the country. This poem focuses on the essence and beauty of the Inwangsan Mountains, located in Seoul. The narrator begins by describing her viewpoint from the top, taking in the “west valley sunshine” and “young dragonfly” with wings that are “too beautiful”. She concludes the poem by saying that humans are “dazzling”.
The best teas to pair with poetry are blends with toasty flavors, encouraging comfort and focus. A few suggestions are: Chocolate Mint, Paris, Vanilla Comoro , and Victorian London Fog. Each flavor is inviting, with a focus on vanilla or chocolate. For choices with less flavor but that are always a staple for a tea fan, English Breakfast (winner of our 2020 Harney Hoopla!) or Irish Breakfast are the ways to go!
So, tell us! When you settle into a comfy spot with a cuppa tea at your side, what do you read? Are there any poems or pieces of literature that resonate with you and your tea experience? Post in the comments below!