Teach, Inspire, Build, Sustain… All in a Cup of Tea

Several years ago, Matt and I vacationed in California, traveling the length of the state multiple times. I enjoyed the scenery, the “golden” hills dotted with dark evergreens, the swaying grasses, the foggy and craggy coastline, but the strongest impression of the trip was in the book I was reading at the time… Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. More than once, McCourt recounts returning to the incredibly meager structures he called home over the years and finding his mother, Angela, waiting with a cup of tea to warm him. The tea was often weak and overbrewed, but it was dinner most nights. And it sustained him during a very dark and bleak childhood.
Tea as sustenance. That theme is emerging again as I’m reading Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission To Promote Peace… One School At A Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Here, Mortenson describes his aimless wanderings on the glaciers of the Baltistan region of Pakistan where he is finally found and revived by his porter, Mouzafer, who makes him three cups of the unique Balti butter tea. Shortly thereafter, Mortenson, lost again, stumbles into the village of Korphe and is treated to tea with sugar as he recuperates. The sugar is a luxury which Mortenson doesn’t appreciate until later when he begins to look around him at the poverty, at the people daily living on the edge of hunger.
But tea becomes more than just sustenance as the book progresses. As Haji Ali, the headman of Korphe, explains, “The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die…. [Y]ou must make time to share three cups of tea” (150). Mortenson reflects, “Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects. He taught me that I had more to learn from the people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them” (150). *
Tea as teacher? Tea as relationship builder? These aren’t the normal views of tea, are they! And yet how delightful it has been at different times in my life to brew tea for a friend and to invite that friend to sit down, relax, and chat. How meaningful it has been at different times in my life to have someone make me a cup of tea, and to then snuggle up, sip tea, and share life stories. That’s relationship building. That’s teaching.
And that is what Compassion Tea Company is all about.
By sharing a cup of tea, of Compassion Tea, one can learn about people in remote parts of Africa, the villages served by clinics supported by the CareNow Foundation, and the needs of those villages and people. By sharing a cup of Compassion Tea, one builds relationships of caring… caring for those least served, caring for those serving in rural Africa, caring for one’s neighbor as one invites that neighbor in for tea, teaches that neighbor about CareNow, and thereby inspires compassion. By purchasing a cup of Compassion Tea, one supports the CareNow Foundation and its compassionate outreach as all profits from the sale of Compassion Tea go to CareNow. These profits will help sustain rural African villages with medicines and medical training. Starting in September, you’ll be able to buy your own Compassion Tea.
Tea can teach. Tea can inspire. Tea can lead to relationship building. And that is sustenance greater than daily bread.

*While working on this blog, I became aware that Mortenson has been accused of fabricating parts of the Korphe story. In an interview with Outside Magazine dated April 13, 2011 (found at http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/Greg-Mortenson-Speaks.html?gclid=CPfKpM-MpaoCFQYLbAodulkHXg) Mortenson answers these allegations by admitting that some of his experiences and trips were compressed for the sake of storytelling. Nevertheless, Mortenson stands by the basic facts of the story. I regret that there are questions about the veracity of Mortenson’s story as these words capture so perfectly the joy of sharing life with not only the next door neighbors but those on the other side of the world.

Previous Post
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: