The story of the Tea’s journey from a sacred plant drunk to support our exploration of self to the bleached dusty teabags we now recognise as tea today, has as uncanny resemblance to the story of modern humanity itself.
It is commonly assumed that when the rise of large scale agriculture emerged, the way we existed as humans profoundly changed. Instead of living as just one species amongst many, we began ‘owning’ land, assuming a right to its resources and this allowed us to remove ourselves from the natural sustainable ecosystem.
As we began to domesticate the world around us, we unconsciously domesticated ourselves. In shifting how we valued the worth of the earth’s ‘resources’, we shifted the way we valued ourselves. We too became commoditised (human resources), valued for our productivity and our function. Instead of flowing harmoniously between ‘doing’ and ‘being’ with both sides of our brain activated to keep us in our natural human state, this precious balance has been hijacked and the imbalance means the magic of being alive is somehow passing us by.
Similarly, Tea was always a sacred plant in China, honoured culturally as a health tonic and harvested and crafted by hand to retain its Chi (life force energy) and drunk with reverence, whether daily, in ceremony or to aid spiritual practices.
Then in 1848 the British East India Company sent Robert Fortune on a trip to China, his mission was to steal the secrets of harvesting and producing tea from the Chinese - a brazen act of industrial espionage and one that cost the Chinese very dearly.
Over several years, he successfully smuggled thousands of the finest tea seeds from China to India, allowing the British to create a competing and very lucrative tea operation there, aiding the rise of the empire and ending China’s monopoly over the world’s most sought after drink.
The deliberate theft of the tea plants by the British with the sole intention to commoditise it, meant that the spirit and sacredness of the tea experience never really left China. As we were gradually weaned onto greatly inferior tea and cost-effective teabag options, in China they still continue to use traditional, organic and manual practices to create beautiful whole-leaf teas.
Soul medicines help us reconnect to our true humanity, they help us uncover and remember who we are under all the layers of conditioning. When we engage with something that is close to source, it’s core nature remaining unchanged, it helps us reset and return to a less corrupted way of being. In the case of these wise and generous Tea leaves, it returns us to a place where nature supports our humanity, nutritionally, emotionally and spiritually.