For those of you that wander but are not lost, the quote above will reasonate deeply. A life without travel is much like a life without tea: tragic. Being a self-professed “flâneur” the idea of travel for travel sake are words to live by. Though the goal is to arrive at ones destination, it is the act of getting there that is part of the fun. And even when we do arrive at our chosen destination, we realize that each day offers its own micro-journey by the mere act of exploring. This applies to one who just travels their own city too, for it’s the act of moving through life and being present that matters.
If you look it up flâneur in the dictionary it will say: “An idler or lounger; from flâner “saunter, lounge” but indeed it is much more than that:
“It was French Poet Baudelaire who identified the flâneur in his essay The Painter of Modern Life (1863) as the dilettante observer. The flâneur carried a set of rich associations: the man of leisure, the idler, the urban explorer, the connoisseur of the street. Such a figure can be seen featured in may impressionist paintings.”
An even more profound explanation into understanding flâneur might be: “—the stroller, the passionate wanderer emblematic of nineteenth-century French literary culture—has always been essentially timeless; he removes himself from the world while he stands astride its heart.”
How utterly delicious. As we take a first step into March let us work to make the goal to just enjoy the ride. Whatever that ride might be or wherever it might take us. Because there is value in even just that.
Sounds simple enough, but maybe not so easy living in a digital world. Thankfully we have books. And we have tea. And we have mobility, maybe a car, maybe access to a train, and maybe even the good fortune to be able to board a plane and just travel for travels sake to basically just enjoy the ride. And if you can’t do any of that, just walk… and see what crosses your path.
This brings us to this months choice for our third Book and Tea pairing. Though the book is is a few years old (2007), the tea is even older!
• Book 3: Breakfast with Buddha
• Tea 3: Genmai Cha
Roland Merullo is an American author originally from Massachusetts. You can read a bit more about him and his novels by visiting his website. One of my favorite quotes of his which seems to aptly reveal much of who he is and why he writes what he does is this: “The problem for me is that I’m interested in everything and everybody.” Many of his books work to explore questions like “What are we doing here on this spinning ball of stone?” and “What might await us after our time here is finished?”
“When Otto Ringling, a husband, father, and editor, departs on a cross-country drive from his home in a New York City suburb to the North Dakota farmhouse in which he grew up, he is a man on a no-nonsense mission: to settle the estate of his recently deceased parents. However, when his flaky sister convinces him to give a ride to her guru, a crimson-robed Skovordinian monk, Otto knows there will be a few bumps in the road. As they venture across America, Otto and the affable, wise, irritating, and inscrutable holy man engage in a battle of wits and wisdom. Otto, a born skeptic, sees his unwanted passenger as a challenge: a man who assumes the knowledge of the ages yet walks a mortal’s path.”
It wouldn’t be tea without some saga or story attached to it. The legend of Genmai Cha begins with a feudal lord sitting around drinking green tea when his man-servant accidentally spilled rice into his cup. Highly offended, the feudal lord cuts off the servants head. He then decides to taste the tea and discovers that its quite good. So, in honor of the servant, whose name was Genmai, the tea was named Genmaicha.
A more likely explanation is believed to be that Genmai Cha got its origins as a way to extended the life of tea that had gotten old. The story that is told in Japan is that it comes from a folk custom of roasting leftover kagami-mochi, a kind of rice cake that is eaten during the New Year holidays, and putting the roasted mochi into tea.
In any case, this tea is delicious! It offers a weight to green tea that isn’t often associated with it. Its nutty, earthy and yes, rice-y. It almost tastes like having a mini meal sip after sip because it leaves the body satiated with a feeling of fullness.
I hope you decided to join in, find a new book and tea to make you feel joyful and connected. If you don’t already follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, we hope you will and share your thoughts about the book and the tea.
Tag us if you decide to post any photos of you reading the suggested book, drinking the suggested tea and be sure to use the hashtags:
Lastly, please consider purchasing your book(s) from a small local independent bookshops. We have a few of these still left in DC.
March on like a lion!
~The Chief Leaf