Tea and the Marginalized
There may be no greater connection between one world and another than tea.
In tea we pick the grasses and leaves of our native lands and ship them to another people who look and think differently than we do. Those people prepare the grasses and leaves in water and consume their essence. We drink the earth of each other together.
Tea might be one of the only things that a young woman from Atlanta, a little boy from India, an old man from China, and a family from Iran all share in common.
It connects us with literal and figurative roots. It warms and cools, energizes and relaxes. It can be cheap or extremely expensive, bitter or very sweet. It dominates many religious rituals, and in Boston once, was a part of political theater.
Just as tea connects humanity in many ways today, it did the same through one of the darkest parts of human history: a desire for sugary tea funded the African slave trade.
Throughout history, nations that had any knowledge of tea shared a consuming desire for it, leading to abuse of workers and migrants, and of the tea merchants who often traveled extremely long distances on dangerous paths to get the product into the cities.
Today’s tea farmers struggle with crippling debt, corrupt work environments and tremendous physical and emotional tolls. Women and children, who account for most of the picking on tea farms, are at particular risks.
This week we will be discussing tea and how it relates to the larger world in terms of forced migration issues and human rights. Come along and share your experiences as we explore this global topic.
What is your favorite tea, and/or your favorite place to get tea?
Do you prefer it hot or iced? Sweet or unsweet? Loose or bagged?
There is, surprisingly, one tea plantation in the United States that actually grows tea, though I can’t vouch for its quality. It is in Charleston, SC, and is open to tourists.