Down the Rabbit Hole: A Note on Ac-tea-vation


Imagine you’re Neo. What would you say to Morpheus?

“The red pill, of course.”

Everyone thinks they want the red one. The waker-upper.

Yet every day, with each hour we spend on the Internet, texting, or some combo of the two, we find ourselves taking blue pill after blue pill after blue pill.

When was the last time you looked at your phone?

When was the last time you looked someone in the eyes?

Now that you’re feeling mildly ashamed of yourself, you can start fixing this by making a cup of tea.

WHAT.It sounds counter-intuitive, right? If we’re going into the kitchen and brewing up some leaves in hot (or cold) water, then it seems as if we’re withdrawing further from the world, away from the comfort and socialization brought by our chirping devices.

But we’re not.

The physical acts of making and drinking tea takes you away from your tech, yes. But that’s exactly the point. Tea plugs you in, uploads you, and turns you on to the real world.

Not The Real World. The real world, where suddenly you have to spend certain watts of brainpower to get the drink you want.

First you’re selecting your leaves, bagged or otherwise. Are you in a saccharine mood, or craving some smoke? Maybe you just want a quick bag of caffeine.

Then you’re getting the water to the desired temperature. This can be as easy as waiting for the kettle to boil up, dumping it in the infuser, done. Or maybe you want to experiment! See what all the fuss is about when you turn off the kettle just before it boils and add it to a sensitive soul.

And finally, you’re steeping the tea. Whether it’s 30 seconds (Lipton, or them crazy Pu-erhs) or 30 minutes (‘sup herbals), you still have to step back, breathe, and wait.

Now, even if the whole process took only 3 minutes in total, you’re left with a cup that, no matter how rushed you are, you cannot chug mindlessly.


By Jen.


Just try it.


It’s impossible because tea doesn’t provide an instant shot of sensation. Those milli-moments in your first sip will always, always taste solely of hot water. Tea needs a moment longer for you to give it a chance. Its flavor drifts within the liquor; the varying notes like little boats, buoyed along the tiny ocean of your cup.


If you’re constantly half-listening to this real world, while the other half is busy texting Sexy Joe about going for wings tomorrow night, then you’re not actually drinking the tea.


This is how you wind up with people who hate tea. When our tech has us geared to expect constant, instant gratification, then tea comes as an unpleasant disruption. It doesn’t jive with our goals. If they can’t get the subtle beauty of their drink within those first milli-moments, then they’re already turned off before the cup has cooled.


By Jen.


But my friends, you know the secret.


You can’t smell the hot smoke of Lapsang Souchong through a camera lens.


You can’t taste cashew-y Genmaicha through a screen.


This is your red pill. Your an-tea-dote.


Here’s one more video: this year’s Commencement speech at Middlebury College. I was lucky enough to catch this in person at my cousin’s graduation, and it spoke to me more than is expressible by all the words in the world. I hope it speaks to you as well.




Adapted from The Snooty Tea Blog.

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