Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Tea Alchemy

I wrote about something the other day and as always, Sir William joined the party. However, the rest of you lot are reading, but not saying a damned thing.

It's certainly plausible that the topic doesn't get your brain cooking like it does mine, but it's also entirely possible that I presented it poorly. As well as I sometimes express myself here, we all have off days.

Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin wrote a book a while back called Three Cups of Tea, and the more I read it and read about it, the more I think it's rather profound. Paraphrased it the other day, but I'll gladly repeat myself.

The first cup we're strangers. The second we're friends, and by the third, you are family. If this seems ridiculous to you, my contention is that we are already family. Not tea fanatics, although that's also entirely true, but we humans. The divisions we have created and perpetuate lead to so many, if not all, of our problems.

Yes of course we still have incurable disease and natural disasters, but when it comes to man-made havoc, there's nothing quite like pitting two people or groups of people against one another. Nothing.

Let me take a ridiculous example to make my point. Most of you already know that I'm a dog lover. I like cats, but really prefer dogs. Were I to invite a cat-lover over for tea, she and I might have the first cuppa and still be feeling out the other's perspective.

But here's one of the reasons the 3 Cups idea works: I've had a cup of tea together with my cat-lover friend. The warm, delicious stuff is coarsing through our system, and we start to feel somehow at ease. As the second cup is poured, we're somehow transformed to friends. Tea alchemy is how I see this. It's a beautiful moment in any tea gathering, whether in a group or 1-on-1. It's a moment to savour.

So now my soon to be familized friend of all things feline is simultaneously warming to my canine capabilities. As we down the dregs of the second cup, we're on a tea high that only Teegenießer verstehen können.

The third cup is where the real magic happens. A few moments previously we were strangers. Or possibly acquaintances. But at some point during the process that started with the pouring of this next cup and continued with the actual drinking of it, we became the equivalent of blood. You might scoff and say this is immaterial. Or too simplistic. Or you might even think the whole premise is stupid.

I whole-heartedly disagree. By the third cup, my cat-loving friend might not love dogs any more or less than she did before, but she'd do nearly anything to defend my right to have my dogs. Before those three cups, she might very well have cursed dogs every time she saw an instance where someone didn't clean up after his dog. Maybe. Maybe not. Similarly, I might no longer think cats are secretly plotting to over-throw the human race. I might continue to have my conspiracy theories about the suspect nature of these other-worldly creatures that the ancient Egyptians even worshipped, but by the time the third cup of tea is swimming in my bloodstream, I very probably have come to the conclusion that an earth run by cats might not be so bad after all.

It certainly couldn't be any worse.


  1. Tea is always one of the first things I offer to guests that visit my family's house, even if they are my teen friends. A cup of tea is always a good icebreaker!
    It is a sign of hospitality and kindness.
    I agree 100% with this post!

  2. Barbara Andrew9 June 2010 at 08:22

    I love the three cups of tea idea and feel that I am doing it in a cyber fashion just now.

  3. The funny thing is, that my tea friendship with you dear Lahik has already affected my opinions on canines. I'm not very keen on them but yours look so beautiful, and full of character, that I find myself retweeting your doggie pics. Me, of all people! Me, who likes cats so much more.

    But you know what; I figure that a good person like you, must have great dogs. Especially if you care for them so much. There must be a reason and I trust yours.

    If you and I weren't tea drinkers, we would never have met online. One cup I accept you have dogs, two cups I wink at them, three cups I'll even pat them on the head. Hurray for tea. And long live those beautiful dogs!

  4. I love the concept. An Earth run by Tea would be ideal.

  5. I believe you are right, my friend. Coffee has no such alchemy, though it is something of a tongue-loosener, like wine.

  6. I guess we are already family.
    I don't know about this 3 cups of tea thing but this mind be similar to the smoking pipe of the Native Americans or the exchange of gifts in some primitive cultures.

  7. This is my idea of community.

    Jackie, your comment made my day. I really do like cats. I'm not in anyway falsely portraying myself as a cat lover. Had a cat named 'Rainer' when I was at music school, and he was the coolest.

    Shirley, you know...coffee is different. It's got its advantages. No doubt about that. I still have a cup of espresso regularly. But the tea drinkers are really my tribe. Unquestionably.

    Petr, an Tea run earth might already be under review. I'll talk to my people who *know* and get back to you.

    Ice, you're hilarious. Lay off the *peace* pipe there, dude.

    Barbara, I cannot wait to hear what you have to say about the great #teaindoctrination.

    And finally, Sir William, thank you for always leaving me a comment. You really do have something to say.

    More on the way...

  8. This was a wonderful post. I never quite thought of tea drinking like that before, and I have never read the book 3 cups of tea, shame on me,right? I will get to it some day soon.

    For me, tea really expands my understanding of the world, and makes me think about things I probably wouldn't have thought about if I weren't sitting down to take time for tea.

    A while back, I went to a local tea house that had just opened. I went along with my brother and after a few cups of tea.Right when we walked in, the smell of tea entered my brain, and a nice tall 'hipster' type fellow walked towards us, offering pink lemonade cupcakes and any tea we'd like. We had a really great and open conversation going about new jersey and the beach and the changes going on in the town we were in. This chat was with our server, who had sat down with us to chat over tea. After we left, I really felt like i'd made a new friend, and perhaps after I go back there a few more times to enjoy tea, new family.