Tea Loves: Katrina Munichiello

Sorry for the prolonged radio silence! I was pretty much out of action the past few weeks with this strange bug. But I’m almost back on track now and ready to take on more tea.

After reading A Tea Reader: Living Life One Cup at a Time (reviewed in an earlier post; a must-read for any tea lover), I knew that I wanted to get in touch with the person behind this lovely collection of tea-related essays. I dropped a note to the author, Katrina, who was more than happy to share a bit of her tea story here – yay!

When did you first fall in love with tea?
I fell in love with tea when I first graduated from college. I walked into a local tea shop that had more than 80 teas on the menu. Before that, I had only known grocery store teabags! I began working my way through the menu and it didn’t take long for me to become a full-fledged tea enthusiast.

What are your tea habits like?
I drink tea daily, whenever I can fit it in. I have three children under the age of seven, so my moments with tea are often stolen moments in the midst of chaos. I recently purchased a tea traveller (a jar with an infuser lid) which has made it easier for me to have more steady access to tea during the day.

What are your favorite teas?
I can’t say I have a favorite. My tea selection changes with my mood, the time of day, the season, and who I’m drinking it with. I often turn to oolongs because I love how they change from steep to steep. If I know I’ll only have time for a single cup though I’ll likely stick with a black tea because it pains me to throw away oolong leaves that have not been fully used. I love a good Yunnan, First Flush Darjeelings, and lately I’ve really been enjoying some Kenyan black teas.

Tell us a bit about why you set up your Tea Pages blog in 2007.
I set up the blog because I really didn’t have a local network of friends who were tea enthusiasts (although that has definitely changed for me). I was learning so much about tea and I wanted a place to capture and share the information. I had people express to me that they wanted to learn more about tea but found it intimidating. To me, that’s the opposite of what tea should be. I wanted to help make tea feel completely accessible. The online tea community has been amazingly warm and generous with their time, talents, and knowledge.

How did the idea of Tea Reader book come about?
I had been blogging for a few years when I received an email from a tea company owner who asked if I’d review his teas. He said he had had his New Orleans shop wiped out by the hurricane and he hoped I’d be nicer to him than the last Katrina had been. I told him I’d be happy to review them but I also wanted to hear what had happened to him. He told me this wonderful story about starting the shop with his wife and the sad destruction of his shop. It made me realize how many such stories must be out there. It was then that I started asking people to send me their stories inspired by tea. After two years of work, the book was finally released by Tuttle Publishing in October. It has been wonderful to see it in bookstores and tea shops.

What do you think is the most common misconception people have about tea?
I think some people get very caught up in thinking that there is a single correct way to enjoy tea. Each tea has its own character and qualities and different teaware and brewing styles can bring out different flavors and experiences. I think people should feel free to experiment. The best way to brew tea is the way that you like it.

Tea goes best with…
…friends.

Tea is…
…a wonderful way to slow yourself down. You can’t make the water heat faster. The tea will take the time to steep that it takes. Don’t rush it. Enjoy the forced moment of patience and calm.

 Katrina Ávila Munichiello is a freelance writer and blogger, and the author of A Tea Reader: Living Life One Cup at a Time. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three children.

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