the only thing we have to choose is discernment itself

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IN A FORMER ECONOMIC COLLAPSE, Franklin Roosevelt, in his famous address to a frightened and ailing nation, said "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  I would concur and also add that the most important thing we have to choose is discernment itself. And quality tea is one ofour greatest allies in this endeavor.

Discernment is our most precious renewable natural resource, and this concept should be especially appealing to the artisan tea and foodie crowd who welcome the opportunity to hone their palates. Discernment is the axis upon which our love of tea depends and upon which our survival relies as well.

It is good discernment that will save us as a society. The exact same discernment we use to identify and give value to one tea over another is the same quality we use to make decisions about the direction we choose to go in from now on.  The old ways of selling and buying meaningless and irrelevant products are falling away.  What will remain, one hopes, are the products and services that require the affection of our discernment, and as such, benefit us most profoundly in the present and in the future.

Without discernment, drinking teabag tea covered in pesticides would be just as good as sipping a wild tea handcrafted in the remote ancestral tea regions of China by people whose kin have known and tended these tea plants for generations. Those of us who love artisinal tea--perhaps we can call ourselves the "Slow Tea People"--will know the difference and will do what we can to support and defend good tea (and good food).  We instinctively know that in doing so, we support discernment itself. And discernment is survival.

As such, we support tea shops and tea houses that take the risk of buying and serving slightly more expensive teas that are worth drinking. Some think five dollars for a pot of tea is too dear, but we Slow Tea People consider all that we are drinking when we drink this "expensive" tea. For one, our keen discernment tells us we are drinking not just a beverage but a phenomenon. When we pay five dollars for a good pot of tea, we are also paying for the wisdom and responsibility of the tea farmer as well as an earth-friendly cosmology which informs us of our dependence on the soil, the plants, and the many creatures who share and nourish our planet.

Each time we sip a premium tea, we know we are consuming hundreds of years of craftsmanship and skill, and in so doing, we are supporting farmers who for generations have relied upon their own good discernment to protect, nourish and preserve the land. Our discernment in this case naturally leads us to protecting the land and its thoughtful caretakers, so that it will continue to support us. These tea farmers have an intimate understanding of nature and its rhythms and secrets. Our good discernment tells us this is worth five dollars.  It is our survival.

By drinking artisinal teas, we also naturally move into an elevated state of mind, a state that offers us the benefit of a heightened sense of discernment in all of our daily choices and activities, a state that helps us make good, sound decisions with long lasting constructive effects. In this intimate and direct way, tea also supports our personal discernment, which in turn, helps us to make good decisions within our own lives and relationships.  Tea brings out generosity and goodwill, the hallmarks of successful community and business.

As well, if we are in a tearoom or tea shop that serves premium tea, we are undoubtedly sipping our tea among interesting, thoughtful people. These are good people to be surrounded by during any kind of crisis, precisely because they have good discernment. 

In quality tea rooms, we also find ourselves enfolded in an ambiance imbued with fabulous art, be it teaware, photographs, sculpture, furniture, or paintings. Slow Tea People bring these objets d'art into their lives, because they know the value of beauty and craftsmanship, beyond just the obvious. They recognize and cherish symbols that  suggest humanity has the potential to be a successful endeavor at all. It encourages us, and reminds us that our creativity harbors the possibility of continually raising the bar of our potential.

This is one of the pivotal moments of our species, which demands that we consider what products and services we consume and support. This will happen of itself, without any prodding or pushing, because people are not able to afford everything they want at every moment they want it.  We will have to make hard choices and narrowly edit our selections  The paradigm of the moment can be summed up in a couple of words, perhaps "relevance" and "value".  And it is our discernment that will help us to identify what has relevance and value.  Drinking tea naturally supports excellent decision making because it heightens the quality of our discernment.

As such, we Slow Tea People will keep good tea and visiting quality tea rooms at the top of our list and in the "must have" section of our carefully honed budgets.  It is not that we "deserve it," we rely on it and know that it is a metaphor for our best chance at thriving.

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