It may be a bit of busman’s holiday, but I often find myself going to the various branches of the Hennepin County Library system and other local systems, even when I’m not actually scheduled to work there. What can I do when the library offers so many different programs and events throughout the year, all for free! Often cooperating with groups and businesses in the metro, its a great way to learn some new things for a very low prices.
While I’ve mentioned my love of the library book sales, of course, and there are always book clubs, writing groups, author talks, and other bookish activities, there is also a surprising variety of interesting community programs. I took an awesome zine crafting session a few years ago at the Nokomis branch, for instance. Learned some innovative, simple, and cheap techniques. A couple of months ago, the Eden Prairie branch presented a very interesting seminar on tea, in conjunction with the Tea Source. A great introduction to what has been called the world’s most affordable luxury! And what goes better with tea than books?
It is still surprising to me how much tea culture has started to take off in the US. I recall being introduced to tea drinking by my sister, back when I was rebelling against our coffee drinking parents. The loose leaf teas we discovered introduced us to a whole new world of flavors, and the information provided by the Tea Source to library patrons was invaluable, and also fun. It was a great way to introduce friends and family less well versed in the tea techniques; my parents, for instance.
Divided into groups, we were each given a job at our tables to begin to learn the ways of the tea, including a person to measure the loose leaf tea choices, prepare the water, and set up the timer. We sampled three different types of basic black teas, Assam, Grand Keemun, and Ceylon, learned about the origins and the biology of the camellia sinensis plant, the only plant from which real “tea” is derived, the production of tea. There are six main varieties of tea, white, yellow, green, oolong, black, and puerh or “dark” tea. We were given pointers on the proper temperatures and steeping times, and other essential pointers on making a proper cup of tea.
We then were given the opportunity to experiment with our own blend of tea, mixing the base black tea varieties other teas or herbs like lapsang souchong (the smoked tea that tastes like a campfire, an acquired taste I quite enjoy), dried mint, ginger, among others. I mixed my Keemun with a little dried ginger and some lapsang souchong.
It seems that there is always something happening. The next week, I happened to be working up at the Northeast branch, for an energetic and exciting family orientated Asian New Year event, featuring interactive drumming, dancing, and arts, and it proved popular with the local families. Today, working at the East Lake branch, I was lucky enough to see a local group teach Aztec dancing for the branch’s Dia de los Niños event, a vibrant and exciting program. I really like that our libraries are such great venues for such community learning opportunities and entertainment, and it always amusing to see passersby find themselves listening to musical performances in the library. So unexpectedly cool! Coming up are some interesting looking bike maintenance workshops and even some 3D printing classes that look interesting; check out the current schedule here!