Monday, 19 December 2011

The Prison and the Cult of Tea

Not sure exactly what I can say about the death of Vaclav Havel, but I do try to keep this blog topical. What on earth does that have to do with tea? Well, I'll let him explain it in his own words (translated of course-I don't speak Czech, do you?) Here's what the late playwright had to say about drinking of the leaf

'When I was outside, I didn't understand the cult of tea that exists in prison, but I wasn't here long before grasping its significance and succumbing to it myself. . . . Tea, it seems to me, becomes a kind of material symbol of freedom here: (a) it is in effect the only fare that one can prepare oneself, and thus freely: when and how I make it is entirely up to me. In the preparation of it, I realize myself as a free being, as it were, capable of looking after myself. (b) Tea - as a sign of private relaxation, of a brief pause in the midst of the hubbub, of rumination and private contemplation - functions as the external, material attribute of a certain unbridling of the spirit and thus as a companion in moments of focused inner freedom. (c) The world of freedom considered as leisure time is represented by tea in the opposite - in the extroverted and therefore the social - sense: sitting down to a cup of tea here is a substitute for the world of bars, wine rooms, parties, binges, social life, in other words again, something you choose yourself and in which you realize your freedom in social terms. . . . I drink it every day. . . . I look forward to it, and consuming it (which I schedule carefully, so it does not become a formless and random activity) is an extremely important component in my daily ''self-care'' program. From ''Letters to Olga.'' '
(source: The New York Times 8 May 1998 from an article by Michael Scammel called The Prison and the Cult of Tea)

It turns out that this is referenced multiple places on the web, but I found it thanks to Thomas Kaspar, whose a member of the Facebook group 'Teefreunde'. He has an intriguing teablog Siam Teas, which if you're not careful, you might lose an inordinate amount of time perusing.

1 comment:

  1. I really *get* fhe thing of scheduling the time when I drink my tea,and I'm so glad, I thought it was me who was a bit OCD. If you can be *a bit* Ocd.