Interviewing LuAnn Pannunzio
The more I blog about tea and literature the more I meet other tea sipping bookworms like myself who confess to not just sipping the beverage but also reading about tea. I find myself turning the pages of the most complex of tea books that describe proper tea preparation, recount tea history or even define tea verbiage. Recently, however, I fell upon a cute little (it truly is little; perfect for your tea tray) book that happened to be more rousing than all the books on tea that I have read so far.
Tea-spiration by LuAnn Pannunzio from The Cup of Life was simply inspiring. I just had to reach out to LuAnn herself to ask if she would be interested in a Blogview so that we tea sipping bookworms could be further inspired by the inspiration that inspired her to write Tea-spiration!
In the Interview below, you will discover LuAnn’s introduction to writing, why she chose to avoid certain tea topics, what her intent is for the reader and much more. At the end of the Interview, I am sure that like me, you will be sip-ly inspired.
- bio derived from LuAnn Pannunzio Amazon Author Page
Gabie: In Tea-spiration, you speak a little on your early experience with tea and you take us back to your very first sip of a strawberry flavored blended black tea, however, now that you have brought us this wonderful read I am curious to know; when was your earliest experience with writing?
LuAnn Pannunzio: My earliest experience with writing was in elementary school as I would always seem to have book writing projects. I remember one of the first little books I created for an assignment was actually on my relationship with my sister Luciana (the person who I dedicated Tea-spiration too, along with tea lovers everywhere!).
I enjoyed writing about anything and everything and would always keep journals. They were a good way to express my thoughts on paper whenever I could. I made sure to enroll in any possible writing courses throughout my school life and in high school is when I learned more about blogs and created my first one. I have gone through many blogs before I created one just dedicated to tea back in 2011. So that is how The Cup of Life was born!
Gabie: I see, now I understand why your writing style is so personal and inviting in Tea-spiration, just like a journal willingly shared.
Tea-spiration is quite an inspirational read which comes as no surprise considering the title. Yet, what does come as a surprise is how inspirational Tea-spiration is to, not just tea enthusiasts, but everyone. Was it difficult to write in such a way that would inspire everyone? Did you have to choose your words carefully?
LuAnn Pannunzio: I’m happy that you think that because that was the ultimate goal. I wanted to write a book that was tea related, but at the same time, I wanted it to be done in a way that it could be for anyone really. And if I turned anybody into a tea lover that wasn’t already, even better! (smiling)
I didn't want it to seem like it was a book that only major tea enthusiasts would enjoy. If you're more of a casual tea drinker, or someone who just loves Red Rose tea bags, this book is definitely still meant for you! However, with that came some challenges. I definitely felt like I had to choose my words carefully because I really didn't want Tea-spiration to seem preachy. I wrote in a way so that it would hopefully not seem too spiritual or difficult for anyone to follow.
Gabie: (smiling) Well, you definitely accomplished your goal. While reading Tea-spiration I did not feel like I was reading a sermon...(laughing) ...and as a side note, I got wind of Red Rose Tea being very tasty and I bought me some. It's really good!
On pages 19 and 20 of Tea-spiration you speak on some-what of a hot topic. I always get asked ‘What is this tea for?’ It seems like many people sip tea hoping that it will help them detox or lose weight. In your book, you ask the reader to, I quote, “Let these thoughts go…”. Can you elaborate on why it was important for you to add this advice in your book?
LuAnn Pannunzio: So, when I was in the process of writing Tea-spiration I actually went away for a weekend to attend the Toronto Tea Festival. It was a very successful festival and each day it was filled with many tea lovers.
However, just walking through the crowds and sampling at some booths I would always hear people asking vendors that question. There were so many people talking about the benefits of tea and which one to buy for detoxing. I always knew that companies usually marketed tea as a magical health beverage but it was different actually hearing consumers ask tea companies themselves for these detox type teas.
I wrote those words “Let these thoughts go....” in the book because that's all I kept thinking that weekend. I didn't want people reading my book with those kind of thoughts because I just wanted the focus to be on how tea makes us feel. If you think the tea is delicious, what does it matter if it's going to help you detox? I doubt many of us started drinking tea at a young age to lose weight. I want people to go back to how they felt when they experienced their very first sip of tea.
Gabie: I agree you with you wholeheartedly! I can't wait until the consumers read Tea-spiration and begin to shift their reasons for sipping tea. This will indeed force companies to present tea in a less commercial but rather in a more personal light.
I began reading your book while soaking in a bubble bath and when I read “Why don’t you put the kettle on, pick out your favorite tea, and flip the page…” on page 25 I had to stop. I didn’t have my tea! I resorted to waking up early the next morning, applying your encouragement and finishing the read, and I did just that. Did you intend Tea-spiration to be read in one sitting with a pot of tea? If not, what was the ideal experience for the reader in your mind?
"If you think the tea is delicious, what does it matter if it's going to help you detox?"
- LuAnn Pannunzio
LuAnn Pannunzio: (laughing) Thanks for listening to my words! Yes, the idea behind Tea-spiration was always to make it the perfect book to have during your tea time. Even with its size, it can easily fit on your tea table or pack up with your tea ware.
The one main theme in the book, as you know, is to slow down with your tea. So, reading Tea-spiration and experiencing all the tea moments with it in one sitting can help with that. I also like how the book is organized so that you can easily flip to any tea moment and review it at any stage of your tea time. I definitely recommend reading it from start to finish first.
Gabie: Oh yes, I will surely be revisiting Tea-spiration during my tea time. I have some marked pages that are sure to help me slow down with my tea.
Throughout the read I could empathize with your sentiments and your experiences surrounding tea, even with some of your viewpoints such as finding a “tea space” of your own to sip in peace and using tea ware that is satisfying and not necessarily “correct”. I feel like your philosophies are logical and relatable, but what do you say to the “nay-sayers” that propagate conventional and so-called proper ways of drinking and preparing tea?
LuAnn Pannunzio: If someone truly believes there is only one way to properly prepare and drink tea, and enjoys doing so that “right” way, then he or she should go for it. However, they should be reminded that tea is a personal experience and with that, others are allowed to experiment with how they like to prepare their tea, too.
Gabie: Yes, I agree. What is right is right for the person preparing the tea. Although there are tradition methods that deserve respect, everyone is entitled to their own tea experience. Thank you for reminding us of that.
In Tea-spiration you elaborate on gratitude and being thankful for the origin of the leaves and even the farmers themselves. During this section of the read you walk us through how we can obtain this appreciation. How has this appreciation helped you personally?
LuAnn Pannunzio: I feel as if my entire love for the beverage grew and I became much more passionate about it when I started to realize how the leaves in my teacup got to me today. When I first started drinking tea I never thought about all the work that goes into growing and processing my tea. But now that I do, I really like to cherish my moments with tea. If anything, this has helped me stop and look at other little things in life differently, too.
Gabie: Wow, it is really amazing how appreciating your tea's source helped you to appreciate other things in life. Tea is so wonderful!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Tea-spiration. It was like nothing else that I am reading! As a blogger, myself of tea and literature, sometimes I get bogged down with deadlines and duties, but Tea-spiration reminded me to slow down and think simply. Did you intentionally stray away from writing a factual book about tea and focus more on a book that would elicit the very experience that I, and I am sure many other readers, had?
LuAnn Pannunzio: Thank you so much for the kind words. I'm truly happy to hear that! I did intentionally stray away from writing a factual book about tea. Even though that was important to me, it was one of the challenges. It was tough to write a tea book without any facts, but, as you mention, I wanted the focus to be on readers' experiences with the beverage.
While I don't dive into tea facts like how to properly steep certain teas, I do touch upon the facts about the hard work that goes into making your tea which I believe is equally, if not more important. I also find that it’s just easier to slow down with my tea if I’m not so fixated on the tea do’s and don’ts.
"...tea is a personal experience...
others are allowed to experiment..."
- LuAnn Pannunzio
Gabie: (laughing) Well, I for one must say that I am glad that you strayed away from the tea do's and don't, we have enough of that jargon on the bookshelves!
In Tea-spiration, I relished how you focused on activating all 5 senses when sipping tea! I normally speak about the Hue, the Scent and the Sip (taste) when reviewing tea but I neglect the sound and the feel which are equally delightful. Why do you believe engaging all 5 senses is necessary to truly enjoy your tea?
LuAnn Pannunzio: It’s something I learned a while back as it’s also common knowledge when tasting wine. I remember going on a winery tour a few years back and they spoke about engaging all your senses when wine tasting and I kept thinking about how it easily related back to tea tastings. Activating all senses when sipping tea is another way of making sure you’re completely present with your tea and not distracted with other things around you.
Gabie: Yes, distraction can really cloud the experience of tea sipping. Thank you for sharing with us what helps you focus...
and speaking of focus, here at Tea End Blog we focus on tea and literature to sip happily ever after. I like to ask all of Tea End Blog’s guests two questions, although the latter may be obvious: What are you sipping and reading lately?
LuAnn Pannunzio: Right now I am sipping on a peach and pear white tea. It's a delightful blend that reminds me of summer so as winter slowly arrives here in Canada it is the perfect steep.
As for a recent read of mine (aside for Tea-spiration) The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies. It was sent to me a while back for my blog but with my book stuff I'm just getting around to continuing it. (smiling)
Sip like LuAnn Pannunzio!
Read with LuAnn Pannunzio!
Gabie: Yum! A peach and pear white tea? That sounds absolutely divine. White tea blends so happen to be my favorite! You are sincerely in love with tea; sipping it, reading about it and let's not forget, writing about it too! Thank you for sharing!
Can you let all the tea sipping bookworms know where they can find you and Tea-spiration?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Lu-Ann Pannunzio/e/B01JPJRL4E/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
This would be an appropriate moment for me to show appreciation to LuAnn Pannunzio for not only taking time out of her busy schedule to perform this Blogview for Tea End Blog but also to indulge us tea sipping bookworms. I also want to say thank you for dedicating a portion of her life to provide such an inspirational read, Tea-spiration.
I am so proud and content to know that we live in a world where a tea enthusiast can write sincerely as an author and touch so many hearts. Tea-spiration will sit proudly on my bookshelf and when mentioning great reads about tea I will not neglect to allow Tea-spiration to roll pleasantly off my lips.
Again, I appreciate you, your wonderful book and all the work that you do to make sipping happily ever after an inspiring experience. I hope our tea paths cross again.
Have you ever finished a book over a pot of tea?
What was the tea & book?