England -JOSEPHINE MOON – Tea, tea and more tea
Well today is a momentous day at the Booktrail for none other than The Tealady (her words not mine) has popped by to say hello and to deliver a lovely heartwarming selection of teas. Josephine Moon is being looked after by the booktrailer today and is going to talk tea, books and of course cake – I mean she has written the most perfect book for our Cuppa and a Cake feature! So to celebrate this, I’m taking her out to a lovely old fashioned local tea shop –
Hi Josephine, Well I can’t tell you how pleased I am to welcome you to the booktrail tea trail…today venturing out of Booktrail towers to a tea experience with a difference. (Eeh I hope Josephine is impressed, I mean she knows everything there is to know about tea after all)
So this is what we ordered for our chat – scones with jam and creme and tea…and it tastes as good as it looks!
Hi Josephine. I’ve ordered some extra cream for the scones. Exscuse the silver teapots, there’s not the kind you would stock in the Tea Chest I know but the tea is still fabulous. Before you go back to Australia mind, you have to take some British Tea back with you….. I prefer the more exotic blends and scenty teas myself and love Rose tea….aaaaah
So, I have so many things I want to ask you…….
Did you visit a shop that inspired you for The Tea chest and if so where can we find it?
One day, I was wandering through a tea shop in Brisbane, called T2 (around 2007), inhaling aromas and shaking bowls of tea, and I thought, ‘What an awesome job! Who gets to design all these teas?’ And with that, the character of Kate Fullerton, lead tea designer at The Tea Chest, arrived. T2 also has stores in New Zealand and one in Shoreditch, London.
What tea would you recommend whilst reading about the Tea Chest?
Too many great ones to choose from! Chai is my favourite ‘go to’ tea for all occasions (and there are so many varieties), but I’m also a big fan of floral and fruit tisanes. I hope, more than anything, that The Tea Chest inspires you to try different teas outside of your familiar range and maybe even to have a go at growing some of your own ingredients and making your own from fresh produce.
What is it about the art of tea drinking that inspires you so much? Do you have collections of old tea cups? Have you experienced a Japanese tea ceremony for example?
I am a mad tea woman. I just love tea, teapots, tea rituals, high teas, doilies, silver spoons and teeny tiny cakes. I actually haven’t experienced a Japanese tea ceremony though it sounds absolutely delightful.
I was always a meditator, but since having my son two years ago, I’ve found it really difficult to get back into. But I have often found great solace in a moment of meditation during the process of making a pot of tea and pouring the tea, taking care and time and attention, rather than just throwing a tea bag into a cup. I prefer it when tea is an experience, rather than a functional drink. And some days, that’s the only piece of quiet time I get.
You are having tea and cake with a booktrailer today. Who would you invite to the ultimate tea and cake party? Which tea would you serve?
I would invite Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, because they both seem so very lovely and grounded and with a good sense of humour and deep humanity. (I would be completely fumbling and klutzy and undoubtedly say something stupid or inappropriate but I believe they’d both forgive me, sweet souls that they are.)
Tea is hugely popular in France – there was a tea called Elephant tea which to my sheer relief was a brand rather than a flavour! What is the most bizarre mix of tea you have come across?
I’ve read about Maple Bacon tea. I could handle the maple, but the bacon? Blah! (the booktrailer would so try that – it sounds quite nice – different but nice)
Why did you choose the locations in London – the Kings Road as the location for The Tea Chest?
I have been to London but only for a week and I wasn’t looking at it as a place to set a story at that time. But I have a good friend, Kathleen, who lived in London for ten years, and my sister, Amanda, lived there for two years, so I consulted with them both about locations. I described my characters to my sister and she helped me find them homes in the city. And Kathleen spent a lot of time helping me narrow down options for the store itself. In the first draft, I had the store in Portobello Road. But I just wasn’t happy with the feel of it. I wanted the store to be super gorgeous, and I also wanted to put a lot of pressure (including financial) on my character, Kate, to make the store succeed and I loved the area of Chelsea so Kings Road just appealed for many of those reasons. It did mean I had a lot of work to do between the first and second draft to move the store, but it was worth it.
You were born and raised in Brisbane. What is the Australian tea scene like?
In my corner of the country, I’m very pleased to see a big shift to loose leaf teas being offered in cafes rather than soaking a teabag in a stainless steel pot and calling that a ‘pot of tea’ (though I’m sad to say, it still happens). I’m still struggling to find a really good high tea, and even good hotels offer high teas that may have wonderful food, but lack any real ceremony, beauty or ‘specialness’ about them. I went to a lot of high teas as (bonafide!) research for this book and I was disappointed over and over.
I’m just speculating here, but I’d say that in terms of buying coffee and tea off the shelf in a supermarket, the uptake would be about the same. But, in terms of the cafe culture, and takeaway food culture, coffee rules. But there is definitely a growing tea culture and I’m proud to think that The Tea Chest might be a part of that. Certainly lots of people have left me messages saying they’re not normally tea drinkers but after reading the book they’re suddenly craving tea 🙂
What are you reading at the moment?
My second foodie fiction novel, The Chocolate Apothecary, is ‘marinating’ at the moment (so I’m not looking at it for an extended period of time). So right now, I’m in research mode for my third foodie fiction novel, and I’m reading many different texts and blogs and websites and magazines to do with that topic. It’s too early to share what it’s about though, so hopefully we can chat again a bit further down the track 🙂
Sure we can! I have another amazing tea place I’d love to take you to. It’s just fantastic but that is for next time…….
Thanks Josephine ..here I’ve bought you a selection of British teas to take back with you. Aah that’s no problem, you’re welcome. Ooh what’s this? A pressie for me? A gorgeous tea pot to brew the leaves properly in. Yes I do need one of those so thank you. I can now have a brew in a fancy pot instead of my chipped china one so cuppa and cake in the future will be a much posher affair! Whoo hoo
Cheers Josephine! Now then should we head back to Booktrail towers and I’lll put the kettle on and I can christen this new tea pot!
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