I’ve been thinking about what my first post should be after a very long hiatus from blogging for TeaLove. This past Saturday at our newest farmers market (Monroe Street Market ) Melissa from The Compost Crew sparked an idea.
Her stand was across from mine and about midway through the day she came up to me and said: “Is anyone actually buying tea from you? Because I see them standing at your tent for a long time. Just talking. What are they talking about? No one seems to leave.”
Welcome to The TeaTent!
I say all the time to customers that walk up and see other customers talking to me that it’s OK to just jump in and ask a question because The TeaTent is a stress-free zone with a lot of chit-chat. And you know what? People stay. For a long time. In the cold. In the heat. They stay. And they talk… I’ve gotten used to it over the years and have come enjoy the ones that camp out around my area (with some turning into nice friendships.)
I told Melissa that people do buy tea (some don’t) and that there is never any pressure or hard sell. My philosophy is that the tea will choose you and if you don’t need it that week, then you’ll be back another time and that’s fine. I also told her that for some reason people feel the need to unload and talk about things they maybe wouldn’t with any other stranger. I’ve had people come to discuss upcoming marriages (and whether to go through with it or not); their health problems (some very serious); what I thought about a new job offer (take it!); what tea would make their mother-in-law like them better (yikes!)… an endless potpourri of topics. I’m honored that so many people feel relaxed and a sense of safety and trust to discuss what’s on their minds. And for those of you who have shared a secret or two don’t worry: Whatever happens in the TeaTent stays in the TeaTent.
Towards the end of the day Melissa came back over to the tent again and told me that she loves tea and wanted to buy some. So I said: “What kind of tea do you like?” She started talking. After a few minutes she stopped herself and said, “Oh my god! I’m doing it too. I just started telling you this long story just because you asked me that one question. How is that possible? It can’t be from just that one question!”
Maybe it is.
We know about the power in the chemical properties of the camellia sinensis bush (relaxed energy). We know how the meditative practice and ritual of tea (chado) can create a sense of well being. And we know the delight of sharing tea with another person (tea time) and the deep connection it brings. But maybe this sense of well being, this magic we feel that helps us to relax deeply and allow ourselves to be vulnerable with others, starts before the tea is even chosen, steeped and poured. Perhaps it starts with just hearing and seeing those 3 beautiful little letters arranged in sublime tandem: T E A.
So, what kind of tea do you like? That’ll be 5 cents, please.