Late on March 8, 2011, my husband and I welcomed our second son, Gavin, into the world. He was healthy and perfect and we were ecstatic to finally get to meet him. Hospital cable is limited and I have always been a bit of a news junkie, so on the night of March 10, I snuggled with my new little man and got ready for my 90-minute sleep cycle. Somewhere around 3:00 in the morning, I caught the first glimpses of the tsunami coverage and my heart just broke.
While tea comes from regions around the world, I have to admit that growing up I had always associated tea with Japan. As my knowledge and love for tea grew, I was drawn to the history and impact of tea within the Japanese culture. After these tragic events, I read intently as more and more information started coming out of Japan regarding agriculture, specifically tea, after the earthquake / tsunami / nuclear crisis. At the World Tea Expo 2011, I sat in on a panel discussion featuring prominent Japanese tea representatives discussing the effects of the crisis on their crops. At Expo 2012, I had the pleasure of attending a seminar called “A New, Exciting Dawn for Japanese Teas” and learning about the current testing, acceptable levels, safe prefectures, and attempts being made to ensure that Japanese teas are safe (a post for the near future).
Michele Brody’s Reflections in Tea is a beautiful reminder of the human factor behind the tragedy. Featured at World Tea Expo 2012, this unique art exhibit allows people to send prayers and well wishes to the people of Japan. Notes of hope are written on tea-dyed T-Sacs (lovingly donated by Serendipitea) and are displayed on a temporary tea house made of copper piping. Michele had a tea service set up within the house and shared tea with patrons. This interactive exhibit was also shown at World Tea East and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens 2011 Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival, among other venues. Once the exhibit has completed its travel schedule, the bags will be formed into a quilt and given as a gift to the people of the Fukushima prefecture. My sister and I took the opportunity to send our prayers and were so moved to be a part of such a selfless and inspirational experience. Donations were also being collected and will be given to the Japanese Red Cross.
If you are interested in sharing a prayer or thought, you can email the artist at [email protected] Please visit Michele’s website to view more pictures of Reflections in Tea. This project is a reminder that a single cup of tea can make us all feel like neighbors!