Welcome to Tea and Travel (in Books!)
I’m about to dive into building Nightborn’s visitor guide to Kansas. As a preface to that temporary shift in gear here, I’d like to introduce a new series that I’ve been thinking about for a while now called the Tea and Travel Series.
Basically, I am going to do a short review of a book and a spot for chai tea in a single post. The books that I will be reviewing will be focused on culture and history. Both as they relate to places that we have or will be traveling to. The chai, on the other hand, will be from various places in the Metro-Phoenix area. Thus, the series will serve as a solid bridge between our Arizona posts and our short guides.
Introducing Cha Cha’s Tea Lounge
If you love tea, you really must check this place out! It will be immediately apparent to you that the people who own, and run this little shop really take tea seriously. The quality is high and the flavors are unique and genuine.
Cha Cha’s Tea Lounge is in downtown Phoenix, in a very cool part of Grand that has become home to some amazing food and artists in recent years.
I absolutely love the atmosphere of this cute little tea shop. There is a lot of warm wood. They have a corner of the shop with a couple comfy armchairs to relax in, and with a few themed books on hand to peruse. While relaxing with your drink, you will have the time to observe all of the little details about this place. There are little crystals in the window, things hanging from the rafters, and a very interesting clock on the wall. Cha Cha’s also has some adorable stuff on sale throughout the shop- mostly tea themed. As a major tea fan, I loved all elements of this little shop!
They also happen to be located right next to a fairly large parking area. So while parking elsewhere on Grand can be a bit difficult, that is no problem here. And if you want to walk around with your drink, they are also near some very bohemia shops and some beautiful street art.
The Chai Tea
The chai tea at Cha Cha’s is a home brew, which I love! I will 100% continue to review shops with mass produced chai tea, but it’s always way more fun to find places with their own chai.
I would also rate Cha Cha’s spiced chai latte highly (4/5). Please note that I lean towards enjoying sweet chais over more traditional flavors.
Cha Cha’s chai has a hearty, spicy flavor with very strong ginger undertones. While primarily spicy, this chai had just enough sweetness to it that I didn’t feel the need to add any sugar. Cha Cha’s will also make you some mean milk foam. Mine survived my whole drink, and I really enjoy milk foam, so I found this delightful.
Book Review: The Kansa Indians: The History of the Wind People
Looking for Books on the Indigenous History of Kansas
The book that I will be reviewing today is William E. Unrau’s 1971 The Kansa Indians: The History of the Wind People, 1673-1873. I wanted to learn more about the indigenous people of Kansas. Truth be told, I was unable to find many options that covered a little bit of culture and history in one. To top that all off, there isn’t a lot out there about the Kansa- the people for whom the state was eventually named. This book was the only one I found that fit the bill. So, is it worth reading?
This is a very dry book, but it tells an extremely tragic story that deserves to be told… and known. If you enjoy learning more about history and culture, and you can deal with academic writing, I think this is a fascinating read. It is very sober, however.
The first part of this book focuses on the culture of the Kansa people, or shares as much about their traditions as we currently know. I always love reading about how other people did or do see the world and their ways of surviving in it. That being said, most of the book is devoted to a very in-depth look at what is essentially decline of the Kansa people post-contact with Europeans.
This was a relatively small group of people that were essentially subject to waves of epidemics. And they struggled to hold their place in a world that was in flux. The historic tellings that we have now made the final generations of Kansa peoples seem like they were in a constant state of war with other tribes living in Kansas. They also struggled with poverty. This was caused by the fact that the Kansa lifestyle was heavily focused on big game hunts, rather than agricultural production. As their reservation was continually downgraded, the Western life style was eventually forced on them.
There is a constant march of new Europeans throughout the book. They include the Spanish explorers and traders, and French fur traders. Finally, the Americans who eventually caused problems via squatting on Kansa lands arrived. Interestingly, however, there are a few key Kansa historical figures (such as White Plume) who can be followed through much of the story. This really illustrates the pure chaos that the Kansa had to deal with as their lands and way of life was slowly stripped from them.
From beginning to end, you will be walked through all of the small and large disasters. These eventually led to the extinction of a culture that once called Kansas home. It is an extremely heartbreaking historical account.
I honestly think that this book will be far too dry for most readers. It is really an academic text (complete with references throughout), and it reads like one. That being said, I don’t think that this is a story that’s often told. So, if you enjoy learning about new cultures, are interested in learning more about the history of Kansas, and/or want to educate yourself about what indigenous Americans had to survive as the US was being colonized, this book is really fascinating.
I enjoyed reading it, in so far as I thought that learning more about the Kansa experience was important.
That being said, besides being dry, this book is written from the European perspective beginning to end. I think that the author did their best at the time to take the Kansa perspective. There is no real Kansa input on this text, however, due to the loss of this culture. Anyone who reads The Kansa Indians should take this into account. And take things presented as fact (particularly in regards to their culture and perspective) with a grain of salt.