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  • Writer's pictureChristina

Miller's December 2023 Update: Paths of Tea

My friend Faye was leaving Malawi after working here for more than ten years.  We brought her a chocolate croissant, breakfast on one of her last days, and left with a basket containing the contents of her tea stash.  I could understand the hassle of going through a ton of tea and trying to find homes for everything, I constantly have to re-assess my own cupboard full of tea.  She kept some sealed loose-leaf bags for herself and some tea bags for women in her Bible study, and Greg and I hauled off a bushel of the rest.  Even as I felt a bit guilty taking so much tea from her, I was confident that I could find people who would appreciate her supply.

On Monday I went through the stash of tea. I will freely admit that I kept some of my favorite teas for myself. Greg and I systematically went through all of the oolongs and jasmine teas in the collection, noting down the flavor profiles in our favorites and making plans to pass on the rest. I was planning to order some new teas for myself at Christmas – we will have to move some inventory to make space for anything new.

On Tuesday I stopped by my friend’s house on my way to clinic. She is a fan of green, white and herbal teas, so I passed on to her all the lavender, honeysuckle, and chamomile teas, along with some others I couldn’t identify well.  There was some white tea, some blooming teas, and some green tea. I knew she could find uses for it, whether through aromatherapy, sipping, or gifting. She gave us some delicious golden melons in exchange, which will be a lovely snack during these hot days.

On Wednesday I went to a Bible study. I handed my friend Michelle the teas with hibiscus (a favorite of hers, not mine) and some decaffeinated and rooibos selections. She sifted through, took a couple, and left the rest of that bag at my friend Leslie’s house for us to enjoy on future get-togethers.  I told Leslie that she has the best tea stash on that side of the M1 (partly because I live on the other). She laughs because we both know where most of the tea comes from which collects there, waiting to be sipped during evening chats.

On Thursday I walked with my friend Beth. Usually, we walk and talk for an hour then come back to my place for tea.  I pass on to Beth some of the higher-caffeine blends, a bit of black tea and a little green tea.  We sampled some together and decided who should keep which.  In the end, I must have sent her home with quite a collection, because her youngest son saw the pile on her counter and said right away, “Did you just stock up at Dr. Miller’s?” On Thursday I also had tea in a café with a former patient, a human rights lawyer. It was an encouraging meeting talking about how the legal system could bring solutions to some of the more troubling issues in our society. I sent her home with a few bags, not enough to unload too much of my stash.

On Friday I brewed a Thai iced tea with boba for a friend who visited.  She is still going through the 20 samples of tea which I gave to her in the cold season, so I didn’t send her home with much more this time, just some rooibos tea bags which would make a good cold brew and iced tea.  Greg was supposed to take some of the oolong tea to the house of a friend he visited, but for now that is still sitting with the book we need to return to the family.

By Saturday and Sunday the bushel of tea was mostly parceled out.  We had some good supply remaining for ourselves, for sipping and sharing between the holiday blends we’ll be consuming this month.  One big, unopened bag remains under our Christmas tree, and will be an interesting surprise to see what’s inside when we open it. 

I loved that Faye’s tea has trickled itself out to so many people who will feel warmth and care from her unique supply.  I am sure that Faye’s impact on others over the years was even greater and will stick around longer than her tea collection, but I think it’s an interesting example of how far what we share can go.

Please pray for God’s work in Malawi during this Christmas season.  -Christina & Greg

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