The last two weeks have been interesting, to say the least.  They are the kinds of weeks that show you how much you really love the tea business … or drive you out of it.  This week I have had news of a great little supplier going out of business, had people from all over Southern California come to visit our http://www.flickr.com/photos/familymwr/5548056598/store, been invited to be part of a “slow food” festival here in the valley, and seen exciting things happen in our social media realm – and that is just the tip of the iceberg.  It has just been one thing after another.  Not everything great, and a lot of it just plain exhausting and / or frustrating.  I can’t imagine anyone wanting to start a tea business, or any business, without an absolute calling to be in it and relentless passion and energy.

Passion will overcome almost anything.  If you believe in and love what you do, you can face opposition, challenges, and flat-out craziness – and just keep moving forward.  My motto is “smile and keep moving forward.”  I don’t ALWAYS smile … but somehow, some way, I keep moving forward.  And that’s where passion comes in.  And vision.  And loose-leaf tea. 

One thing that is so wonderful about loose-leaf tea is the family of tea bizzers I’ve gotten to know virtually – like Charles Cain, Erika Cilengir, and quite a few more, just through Twitter or email or even Skype.  Charles Cain has been a delightful surprise.  When I first read him here on T Ching, my heart started pumping harder because I could hear that passion and that relentless drive and the opinions about how things worked in the tea business.  I never dreamed that he also had a great sense of humor and didn’t take himself as seriously as I thought.  He just loves what he does and is passionate about it!  Then there’s Erika, whose kindness and professionalism in her email reminders of posting times and personal encouragement have been a blessing.  Tea people are just a special bunch.  Well, aren’t they? 

All of our customers are great, but there are definite differences in coffee and tea customers.  Coffee customers seem to be on a faster track.  Tea customers like to browse and talk about tea and they are sometimes as passionate as we are concerning the leaf.  Their passion and interest help inspire us to learn more, share more, offer more exciting and delicious options, and keep searching for things that make them ecstatic.  Come on, tea business people.  What beats letting your regular customers smell a new arrival and watching their eyes light up and smiles come to their faces?  We are all sommeliers if we are doing our jobs correctly.  We are the “chefs of the liquid world.”  We are guides on a journey that will last a lifetime for all of us who step onto the yellow brick road of loose-leaf tea and herbals.

So, as I close and go to lock up for the week, I leave you with the encouragement to let your passion take you through the good times and the really tough times.  If you have it, I’m fairly sure some of us will meet – somewhere – perhaps at the World Tea Expo, at your place or mine, or just through Twitter or emails.  One of the best places we have to meet and share and compare notes is right here, thanks to Sandy and Michelle’s passion and vision for T Ching.

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