Tea drinking and consciousness

Tea drinking
Tea drinking

I find tea drinking comforting. I like the warm simplicity of pouring hot water onto leaves and getting something out of it – a bit like alchemy. More than that perhaps, I like the idea of sharing an experience with millions, if not billions, of people on a regular basis.

Recently I have started to imagine the journey from a plantation in some far away land all the way to my cup. I think about the plants. I think about the hands picking the leaves (what are they like?). Then processing them in a wide variety of methods. (the expertise, the tradition, the machinery). I think about the merchants.

And I think about the farmers and the cows and the milkmen.

And I think about the people making cups and teapots and cutlery (or little wood sticks which I sometimes use to stir my drink). And while I consider the drink I have in front of me, there’s this little thought trying to catch my attention with a little ‘erm, and what about this?’ This being: Do you think all these people are living with dignity while producing all the different pieces that make your nice cup of tea?

I don’t. And it makes my nice cup of tea less pleasing.

There’s an apocryphal sentence attributed to George Orwell: “People Sleep Peacefully in Their Beds at Night Only Because Rough Men Stand Ready to Do Violence on Their Behalf.” While the quote is about war and violence, I think it can be used in any situation we choose to ignore the origin of a product or service we use, because, if we knew, it could be hard to sleep at night.

What are the options though? Does Fairtrade honour its name? Is it a discussion about Capitalism and its impact on human interactions? Is there anything out there produced or created without some sort of exploitation down the line? Was there ever?

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