Tea is more than just ancient tradition. Tea is more than the leaves on the tree, the processing, or the liquid in the cup. Tea doesn’t care if you buy from a farmer, a vendor, a big chain store, or Lipton tea bags.
Okay, maybe tea cares about the last one.
Tea is an experience. Experiences are meant to be shared, just as I’m sharing this writing with you. I haven’t been in the tea world as long as a lot of people, but I’ve shared tea with so many people around the world in all sorts of situations. Mailing tea around the world… traveling to meet tea friends… video chatting with vendors in China… it’s all a part of the tea experience.
No matter your belief, tea, in ancient cultures, has always had a “spiritual” connection. Drinking tea alone has calming abilities. It gives you the chance to center yourself, to focus on something other than life, to feel the energy of the tea. But what is so special about sharing tea? Sharing tea connects people and provides a sense of community. Not only do we feel the connection to the tea, we feel connection to the other people in the room, regardless of conversation. Tea is a bonding experience, meant both to be shared and enjoyed alone.
I’ve shared tea with quite a few vendors including Crimson Lotus Tea, White2Tea, Bitterleaf Teas, and Meimei Fine Teas. Tea with vendors is fun for someone like me. I’m trying to learn tea-related Chinese terms, processing techniques, arbor vs. taidi, different mountains, leaf size, etc. But you don’t need to be an aficionado to have tea with a vendor. Just sit back and listen. Enjoy the time. Enjoy the tea. Learn more about the drink you love. Listen to the stories of the people who have been there. Live vicariously through them. Dream.
Did you just..?
Yup. Sure did. I’m passionate about tea. I dream about the future endeavors that I can have – open a curated tea store, sell teaware, hold classes locally and online. I’ve had a lot of hobbies that involve learning about subject matter, attending conferences and shows, buying… a lot. Tea is a community experience. You can’t just have it alone and feel satisfied.
So, what does this mean?
Sharing tea is less about what you’re drinking and more about how you’re drinking. Tea transcends differences, unites, comforts, and delivers an experience unlike any other. Turn off the television. Turn off the cell phone. Turn off the computer (unless you’re skyping someone for tea!). Drink in the experience and, better yet, experience it with someone else. Find someone who doesn’t know about tea and explore it together. Start with a simple green and work your way to complex puerhs. You don’t have to bond over expensive tea, you just have to enjoy the time.
Oh, and if you want to have tea with me, just let me know.
Until the next cup.