Richardson returns to Lunch with the Arts for tea time on March 13

Published 5:11 pm Thursday, March 7, 2019


Contributing writer

It’s tea time on Wednesday, March 13, when Bruce Richardson, owner of Danville’s Elmwood Inn Tea, returns to Lunch with the Arts at the Community Arts Center. His illustrated talk will focus on the influence of Japanese tea upon American art and architecture and how tea became the perfect metaphor for blending Eastern and Western cultures. 

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According to Richardson, Boston’s second gr eat tea party began on March 24, 1904, when Isabella Stewart Gardner opened the door of her new Fenway house/museum to greet Okakura Kakuzo, the author of The Book Of Tea. Okakura had just arrived in Boston to begin cataloging the Museum of Fine Arts’ vast treasure trove of Asian art.

He became her spiritual advisor and she, in turn, introduced him to an endless stream of artists, poets, writers, philosophers, and musicians. Richardson and Robert Schalkoff taught a course on “The Second Boston Tea Party” during Centre’s recent Winter Term. He promises to share an interesting story relating how Isabella Stewart Gardner contributed to the success of Centre College Football. 

Richardson will serve Japanese Gyokuro Green Tea for the audience, using a cold steeping process. “When asked if they could have a choice of teas, and they could afford it,” he says, “people in Japan would choose this rare tea.” Later this month,  he will travel to Kyushu, the southwestern most of Japan’s main islands, where gyokuro tea is painstakingly cultivated. The process includes keeping the plants in 90 percent shade for the final 20 days prior to harvest. This technique insures a high concentration of chlorophyll, resulting in the tea’s emerald green leaves.

From 1990 until 2004, Shelley and Bruce Richardson  operated a tea room at Elmwood Inn in Perryville, Kentucky, which developed an international reputation as one of America’s favorite locations for a traditional afternoon tea. The couple chronicled their life in tea through numerous books and eventually launched their tea importing and wholesale packaging company, Elmwood Inn Fine Teas, located in downtown Danville.

Their publishing house, Benjamin Press, has become  one of the largest publishers of tea books in America. One of their most important publications is Okakura Kakuzo’s 1906 work, The Book of Tea, which Richardson illustrated and expanded in 2011. A classic book for any tea or art library, it is widely regarded as one of the twentieth century’s most influential books on art, beauty, and simplicity—all steeped in the world’s communal cup of tea. 

Richardson is a native Kentuckian, author, photographer, tea blender, and frequent guest speaker at tea events across the globe. He has numerous appearances on television and radio talk shows and is in demand as a guest speaker presenting at professional seminars including China’s Global Tea Fair. He has been a contributing source for articles found in Slate Magazine, MTV, CNN, The Smithsonian, National Geographic, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and BBC.

A recognized tea historian, Richardson serves as Tea Master for the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum and  is a contributing editor for TeaTime magazine. He has lectured at The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Winterthur Museum, Monticello, Centre College, University of Kentucky School of Fine Arts, Japanese-American Society of Kentucky, Yamaguchi Prefecture University, and the Confucius Institute.

Sign language interpretation is available for this event upon request. Contact Niki Kinkade at (859) 236 – 4054.


Lunch with the Arts

Featuring Bruce Richardson

Noon – 1 p.m. Wednesday,

March 13 at CAC

$5 per person at the door