We huddled around an iPad and an English woman in the restaurant just off of the hotel lobby. At least four others paid to be here at this moment. My wife asked if I wanted to come and learn about tea. I drank it enough and lived in England for a few years so I was qualified as someone who cares about tea.
Felicity, the Jing Tea rep, spun the iPad so that the writer, actually the founder of Tablehopper and I could better see the video. The Asian couple across from us sniffed the tea that had just been poured in front of them as I watched Chinese farmers harvest leaves half way around the world.
Felicity moved her hands in circles, explaining how the gifted few swirled the leaves in a hot wok, drawing the essence from deep within their paper thinness. Her Stratford-upon-Avon accent soothed us as we sipped the results of generations of tealeaf farmers. Did we know that all tea is derived from the same plant? Did we understand the process that turned the same leaves into the six grades of flavor passing over our tongues today?
A man appeared in the video. Jing’s founder. As I watched him focus on the leaves in front of him, ignoring the harvester by his side I understood that he went. He left. He journeyed. He took hours from his life, days longer to travel to a remote village as Felicity detailed, years to appreciate how to roll leaves in his hands. We received the same leaves in glass cups in front of us, daring to sniff the aroma from within, never reaching past the glass that we cupped and passed.
What kept us from touching? The man on the screen drifted away in a quick edit. We admired his passion for the subject. He changed his life to provide us with content for our afternoon.