Last year, in conjunction with T Ching and the local chapter of Rotary International, a revolution had its first stirrings. Teenagers – those beautiful bundles of protoplasm and sass – were invited to drink quality whole leaf tea, brewed correctly.

It was an awesome success. Thousands of cups of tea were served on Tuesdays. So many that this English teacher, who used to spend her entire planning period evaluating essays, was setting aside several minutes each Tuesday afternoon to wash teacups in the staff lounge! A labor of love, let me assure you.

Students grew to love all tea that was prepared correctly. Nepalese Oolong; Golden Lion’s Paw; Matcha Genmaicha (“it’s like, soup!”) and King of Pearls jasmine became favorites. They loved re-steeping the leaves and experimenting with different types of preparation. The beauty and utility of tea accessories was appealing, and students often gifted me with beautiful teacups and saucers.

It’s a new year — and a new crew of tea drinkers. Members of the speech team pitched in and purchased 24 beautiful white teacups, and we have found that an entire class can enjoy tea – given time to steep the leaves four times. A few sophisticated returnees have learned that the second steeping is sublime, and will hold out for that one if given their druthers. A new wrinkle is that classes have determined that if it is Tuesday, we should be having tea in class. Yesterday, the fifth Tuesday of the new school year, found twenty-three mixed-age teens enjoying Kishanganj Snowbud, nineteen tucked in to an Oolong, and two-thirds of a class of sophomores sniffed and “aaaahed” over cups of jasmine. When kids are served tea, suddenly they are the ones full of questions.

“Why do you take the strainer out of the water?”

“Why do they roll them into balls?”

“Why are these tea leaves so skinny?”

“Why are these leaves, like, hairy?”

“Why do you have to wait for the water to cool?”

It makes a teacher wonder . . . how can I get this much enthusiasm going for my next selection of Puritan literature?

Have hope for the generation that will be paying for our credit card habit, our 7 billion dollar bailout, and our costly war in Iraq . . . once they get a taste of real tea properly prepared . . . they will be hooked for their length of their long and healthy (taxpaying) lives.

Right on!

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