Using Zoom worked out.  I’ve only ever talked through video using Skype, Hangouts, Messenger, Wechat, Line, Whatsapp, and Microsoft Teams before (the last we use for work).  It’s odd discussing an experiential theme like tea-drinking through an online medium.  We actually did taste some teas, although due to the time difference I ended up drinking a few extra rounds of a Myanmar sheng I wrote review notes for earlier versus doing the whole tasting, since I don’t usually drink tea in the late afternoon.  Both of them tried samples I’d passed on, both Thai teas from the same vendor (Tea Side); cool it worked out like that.  One was a small batch-produced Thai shu and the other probably a wild-source Thai black tea.  Of course it does work to share tea experience through discussion, it’s just not as shared an experience without syncing the teas being tasted.

It was just as interesting hearing about how the pandemic goes where they are, and their own personal experience of it.  I’d talked with three tea contacts in Italy a couple of weeks ago (by text) and it had been interesting looking ahead to roughly what a lot of other places are experiencing now.  It’s just what you would expect though: Experiencing social isolation, anxiety, and personal loss.

In Germany they’re a bit strict about monitoring the social contact restriction guidelines, and people are fined for violations.  Apparently in India getting beaten by a police officer is a potential form of reprimand.  Interesting!  Here in Thailand anything goes (kind of like always), with lots of people walking around in my soi (side street) not wearing masks.  So far that’s not going badly, because voluntary isolation and company closures seem to have leveled off the spread of disease.  Malls and restaurants are closed here, except for take-out; I mean – police don’t check who is walking around or why.

It’s a positive idea that maybe many of us might gain exposure to some unfamiliar ways of connecting through this, a potential bright side to an otherwise problematic time.

Image is a screen capture provided by author