Tea and Community
For the last four months, I have enjoyed participating in an online tea community. I sipped and discussed a different tea daily with hundreds of others. We shared photos and prayer requests, tea reviews and daily anecdotes. There were even options to chat together on Friday, which worked a few times depending on time change and internet capacity. Individuals I knew only virtually sent me birthday and anniversary wishes. Some even sent me samples of tea using their online rewards points. It was so enjoyable having something to look forward to each day. Some might have said that I was a bit too involved, carrying tea bags around with me along beaches in Hawaii and on safaris in Africa. Others discovered the community and are enjoying it themselves after I used my rewards points to give them a free gift.
Although I will miss the excitement of a new tea every day, I will also enjoy the chance to drink down some of the teas I already have, and to blend some of my own teas. Today I tried a raspberry chocolate cream Ceylon blend and a blackberry maple vanilla oolong blend. I enjoyed some afternoon boba tea and some evening herbal tea. We had friends over for iced tea on Saturday, and tomorrow I’m having a virtual tea date with my mom followed by a friend visiting for tea. It will be nice to turn the virtual tea parties into real-life tea parties on my veranda.
But even more than tea at my own home, I’m excited about the village teahouse that Thokozani is about to open. We were with her years ago when she purchased the land and building for her teahouse. We waited two planting seasons as she suffered a loss of inventory from her clothing shop and focused on other community improvements. But now, this week, it’s happening. She’s buying up 50 pounds of sugar and even more milk powder and opening her teahouse right in time for to serve people coming back from harvesting in their fields. At 50 cents for a small cup and 75 cents for a big cup, she’s underselling the tea shops a bit down the road and hoping for hundreds of customers in the first week. She’s already thinking of buying some land to plant trees so that her patrons can enjoy the shade as they relax at her teahouse. I had a sample of her tea service this week as we were in the village assisting with agricultural training. Sweet and creamy, it was a great cup of tea that really made me feel pampered. She piloted making tea for 30 people each day during the training, giving each person a half-loaf of bread to go with the tea in truly Malawian style.
She plans to use part of the teahouse proceeds to support local children and local women’s finance groups. That woman is amazing and it is amazing to watch and sometimes participate in her enterprising spirit and community development. I can’t wait to have a cup of tea in her new teahouse.