When I first visited the World Tea East Conference in New York I was surrounded by individuals with whom I share a common passion, tea. I was not there to suggest that tea vendor wear a tea hat but there is something endemic about the positive qualities of tea that is conveyed in the marketing. One cannot promote tea without suggesting the residual benefits of health, peace, calmness, serenity, charm, and lifestyle. Working in the tea industry is like searching for the proverbial fountain of youth.
I am not a wholesaler or retailer of tea but in a society so rigidly structured tea is a common equalizer. I am perfectly comfortable because I recognize that there is an intrinsic value of a product that urges its customers to take time to reflect, seek inner peace, connect with others, heal your body, and savor the moment with sensory appreciation.
I stumbled upon the benefits of tea as a social bridge to cultural awareness as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Andhra Pradesh, India. It was a social equalizer in culture where a rigid caste system still keeps people separated. I felt just as comfortable sipping tea out of a tin cup in a village in India or drinking tea out of bone china cup in London or the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington DC. The social barriers were removed and the stigma vanished. The benefits are the same, social engagement, conversation, common ground, self-awareness, and no defenses.
It was these tea experiences that led me to create a high tea society for girls in 1997 to open up the world of tea to our girls through the High Tea Society. I later changed the name to High Tea Society-Girls Connected (HTS-Connected) as not only a bridge to the civil and global communities but also as a means of self enlightenment.
Some 24 years later over 800 girls have engaged in various High Tea Society programs and activities. The HTS-Connected can affirm that although tea cannot remove all social barriers, it will prepare one to be as comfortable in the White House as one is in his or her house.
A cup of tea like anything else may have a lot to offer but there must be a readiness to receive it. As I moved from workshop to workshop at the tea conference and from booth to booth, I experienced a different catharsis. I have attended many different tea meetings, events, and conferences before but I never really saw what was there before my eyes just for the taking or asking. My response on those occasions is so common in our times. We often are blinded to God’s gift; however if we keep searching one day we see through new eyes and our thirst for more knowledge cannot be easily quenched. I have evolved into a tea sponge and I am always seeking new information that I can actively use not just for my benefit but for all the girls and individuals I encounter. I have started on this tea journey before without a purpose, but this time I will not detour. I will keep moving forward sharing the beauty, bounty, and benefit of tea with or without my signature hat. Please share with me your tea encounters because your experiences may seem like a ripple but I assure you they will bring waves of joy. God bless.