The Book: The Drops of God by Tadashi Agi (author) and Shu Okimoto (illustrator) is the first manga graphic novel I've read, but it won't be the last because it's the first entry in a fun and informative wine-related series.
Shizuku Kanzaki is the son of one of the most respected and famous wine critics in Japan. Young Kanzaki has an incredible sense of smell but has defied his father by refusing to drink wine and by seeking employment in a beer company.
When the elder Kanzaki dies, Shizuku learns that his father had legally adopted a young man named Yutaka Kanzaki, an up-and-coming wine critic. His will states that his house, expensive wine collection, and estate goes to the son who correctly identifies twelve specific wines along with a thirteen, dubbed The Drops of God. To say that Shizuku is at a disadvantage is the understatement of the century. How is he to find the exact wines if he has never, ever tasted any wine? Lucky for him, he has friends to help him in his quest.
The Drops of God sets up the contest and introduces us to the players. In future volumes (will there be thirteen more?), we'll follow Shizuku and Yutaka as they race to solve the wine riddle. The novel has a lot going for it, starting with an exciting and action-packed story and multidimensional characters. The book is also surprisingly informative about wine, such as how and when to decant, how to read a wine label, and the names and histories of some stellar French vineyards.
Learning about wine has never been so entertaining. I am totally hooked on the series and can't wait for volume 2 to be released next month. To see the style of the black-and-white artwork, click on the image to the right. The scene is from the beginning of the book and shows Shizuku and his soon-to-be-friend Miyabi Shinohara, the sommelière. (To read manga, read the panels from right to left and the bubbles within each panel from right to left.)
The Tea: Because I've been sick with a cough and a stuffy head, I've been drinking a lot of tea this week. In October I told you about the generosity of Heather from Raging Bibliomania, who bought me tea from a shop called Infusion Tea. I was looking forward to trying the unusual Genmaicha Japanese Popcorn green tea blend. Here's the catalog description: "Japanese tea blended with roasted rice for a savory cup that has a toasty, nutty flavor with notes of nori." The website adds: "During the firing of the rice, it is common for the rice to pop, not unlike popcorn, hence the name popcorn tea."
I brewed the tea according to the directions, and the first thing I noticed was the aroma--a combination of fish and grass. It might be because I'm sick, but I had a hard time bringing the cup to my lips. However, I went ahead and sipped. Although I didn't mind the taste, which was actually rather bland, the tea is not going on my top-ten list. I'll give it another chance once I'm feeling healthy, and I'll let you know if it makes a difference. Sorry, Heather! I so appreciate having the opportunity to taste the tea. Fingers crossed that I like it better next time.
The Assessment: Shizuku is Japanese. He absolutely drinks tea. He comes from a well-off family and has a decent job, so it's no stretch to think that he would buy fancy teas. Perhaps his incredible sense of smell would pick up on the more palatable aspects of the roasted rice and nori. In fact, he may be mocking me as an unsophisticated, idiot, barbarian Westerner who wouldn't know a good flavor if it jumped up and bit me. In that case, I'll drink the wine and serve the stinky tea to Shizuku.
What About You? And now we come to you. What's in that mug or glass? Anything good? Oh, and what are you reading this week?
These links lead to affiliate programs.
Thursday Tea was the brainchild of Anastasia at Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog.