Tea feeds my soul. A friend of mine who owns a small tea company recently challenged me to stop writing so much about the business of tea and wear my soul on my sleeve a little more. So I’m taking this opportunity to describe why I’ve developed a passion for tea.
It’s true that much of my writing on T Ching, TeaRetailer.com, and other places focuses on the business of tea. It can accurately be said that I am a tea capitalist. Since a bankrupt company can’t be socially or environmentally conscious, I make no apologies for pursuing profit. Success is a necessary prerequisite for positively impacting the world around you. The key, of course, is balance. A company that pursues short-term profit at any cost is a menace. A company that pursues social values at any cost is defined as a non-profit, and subsists on donations, not customers.
I’ve worked in a variety of industries. I’ve started small businesses, consulted for medium-sized businesses, and worked in the bowels of giant corporations. I’ve learned a lot, had a good deal of success, and had a tremendous amount of fun, but I’ve never worked in an industry that fed my soul the way the tea industry does. I’ve never been able to be so proud of what I do. So what is it about tea, or the tea industry, that feeds my soul?
Tea is Sensual
Webster’s defines “sensual” as “relating to or consisting in the gratification of the senses or the indulgence of appetite.” There you go. Tea is warm on a cold day or iced on a hot day. Tea offers incredible aromas, and either robust flavors or delicate nuances as your current preference dictates. Tea is guilt-free, delightful, and offers a never-ending voyage of sensory discovery.
Tea is rich in culture, history, and science. There is far more to be learned than I can ever hope to absorb. While I have little interest, to be honest, in reading a history or science text book, I do find pleasure in learning tid-bits about tea that can guide my sensory discovery and add an intellectually fulfilling element to the voyage. Whereas fruit juice may taste good, notes of plum or apricot in a Chinese oolong are fascinating in a way that awakens both my senses and my intellect.
Tea is Healthy
Yeah, I know, but honestly I don’t really care. Tea is good for you in the same way that fruits and vegetables are good for you. Tea is not a super drug and not a cure – it’s part of a healthy lifestyle. I’m well aware that many tea companies out there are using the buzz (and myth) around the health benefits of tea to line their pockets, but much of what is claimed is accurate in the same way that infomercials are accurate. With all due respect to the pitchmen, the health benefits of tea are a bonus, not a business.
Tea is Social
Sharing my passion for tea with others is richly rewarding. Tea is definitely a secret worth sharing. I am completely confident that I can find a tea that will impress just about anyone, and equally confident that a little bit of targeted information will make their tea-drinking experience both intellectually and sensually rewarding for them too. It’s a real pleasure to experience tea with others and share what I’ve discovered.
So many people spend their days developing, supporting, or selling products or services that simply don’t excite them or the customer. I know people need their cavities filled, their cars fixed, and their groceries to be fresh. At the same time, as a customer, I don’t get excited when I experience these goods and services. I have to believe that the people selling them to me don’t have anywhere near as much fun as I have selling tea. With tea, I get to spend my time introducing people to a pleasurable passion of mine.
Tea is Profitable
So maybe I’m slipping back onto my business side, but bear with me for a moment. The most profitable, sustainable businesses don’t make their money by taking advantage of customers. They make money giving the customers something they really want. How cool is it that I get to spend my days introducing tea drinkers to a better product at a lower price? Even better, I get to introduce non-tea drinkers to the most popular beverage in the world. I know they’ll love it. I know I’m giving them a great value and a great experience. I know that between the sensory, intellectual, health, and social aspects of tea, customers are definitely getting their money’s worth when they buy tea from me.
Honestly, is there another product that can make customers this happy and yet is really good for them?
I get paid for drinking tea and making people happy. That’s pretty cool.