Originally from the United States, Candace Rose Rardon has been living abroad since 2008. Her writing and illustrations, which are deeply inspired by cultures around the world, have been supporting her since 2011. Her work has appeared in many publications including National Geographic, Lonely Planet and BBC Travel. She also writes travel inspired Sleep Stories for the popular meditation app Calm and released a pocket-sized guide on the culture and history of tea. At the tea table Candace chatted about her love for the gaiwan, daily tea rituals, favourite tea related memories and illustrations from her travels.
The kettle is on and I can hear it about to sing. What tea are you going to steep for us today?
Thanks so much for having me at your tea table, Lu Ann. Today I’m enjoying yerba mate, which isn’t a true “tea” because it’s made from the leaves of the holly family — but it’s a huge part of the culture here in Uruguay, where I’ve lived for the past four years. It took me a little while to get used to its bitter taste. However, I love how deeply communal mate is and how a single gourd will be passed around a group (before Covid-19, that is!).
Thank you for joining and for picking out a great steep! Do you recall your first sip that started your tea journey?
Unlike with coffee, which I didn’t develop a taste for until I was an adult, I’ve really been drinking tea my entire life. It’s hard to recall the exact first sip that started it all. My mother is a huge tea lover, so I grew up sharing scones and pots of English breakfast with her. I even dedicated my first book, Stuff Every Tea Lover Should Know, to my mom, to celebrate the role that tea has played in our relationship over the years.
That sounds like a delightful way to grow up! As a writer, illustrator and visual storyteller, what are some of your daily tea rituals today?
Tea has always been an essential part of my creative routine. I usually start the day with a mug or two of coffee, and drink tea throughout the afternoon. But it wasn’t until I started doing research for my book that I bought my first gaiwan and really dove into the world of whole-leaf tea. Now, I can’t imagine not brewing tea in a gaiwan. I’m also very interested in mindfulness. So, I love how calming tea rituals are and how they help us slow down and carve out a few moments in our day to be present and still.