Thursday, 27 October 2011

The Tea Effect over at Indonique

spring flowers for after the hurricane
Wanted to dip into Katrina Ávila Munichiello's new book The Tea Reader last week in the build up to her book party.  But I got distracted by the beautiful weather at the weekend and then Lisa Galaviz and her trip to the monkey-picking tea shop.  If you read Lisa's account that I spoke of here recently, you can see how hard it was for me to stay focused on what I'd wanted to cover.

Nevertheless, I'd mulled over what new treasure I wanted to share from the many I found in Katrina's book and finally decided on The Tea Effect by George Constance.  I should be up front about the fact that this wasn't the first contact I'd had with George and his love of tea.  

Years ago, when I first decided to get more serious not just about drinking tea but writing about it as well, George was one of the first tea people I reached out to.  I knew him only as @Indonique over on twitter, and he was quite generous with advice about what books might help me on my quest of understanding tea better.  

Here I am flipping through the pages of The Tea Reader, and I find an essay that George has written about the shop and Hurricane Katrina and everything before and after those things intersected.  Most importantly, he recounts how they came up with a term for the positive impact tea had had on their community.  

The backstory of the shop was that he'd originally had the idea of selling wholesale tea to cafes in New Orleans.  No-one was interested, so he and his wife/partner Daya opened up their own tea shop/cafe in Magazine Street.  

Slowly, other cafes in the area wanted to be a part of the tea scene.  Over to the leaf-side, as it were. And they wanted tea only from Indonique.  Reading this account, I feel the pull and I'd like to try some of that very tea.

This attraction and desire to be a part of something positive in the community is what they call the Tea Effect.  Now I have to rely on George's words to tie this up:

'Post-Katrina, we considered ourselves fortunate--fortunate that we live in a wealthy nation that offered a place to which we could evacuate, and the help of friends and family to rebuild our lives.  So many around the world don't have these resources.  Tea-producing regions in particular are vulnerable.  The tea industry does little to alleviate this.  Indonique was rebuilt with this in mind.  We pledged to return 10% of every sale we make to the communities that pick our tea through Non-Governmental Organizations like Mercy Corps that can most effectively make change and provide oversight.  Our accounting records are open and our website is dedicating percentages to organizations that fight the trafficking of children.  We believe that if all industries did the same, we could alleviate poverty, disenfranchisement, extremism and the need for large military expenditures.  We're rebuilding Indonique as a cause.  The trick for us is to recreate that Tea Effect, so easily obtained in our shop, and duplicate it in cafes and retailers around the nation, to make the cause as infectious as the Tea Effect.  We're in discussions now with brokers and venture capitalists to do just this.  Perhaps the storm that caused so much misery will lead to something that will alleviate misery everywhere.

Fingers crossed.'

I couldn't have put it better myself.

Another thing I found about Indonique tells the whole story in much more detail.  You can find it here:

If I haven't already said it, you really should get your own copy of The Tea Reader.  Really.

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