Sunday, July 18, 2021
Read The Room Like A Good Drug Dealer
As the COVID restrictions on gatherings lift and as I start hosting a few tea gatherings of my own, I thought I would share some sage advice on tea gatherings. The best advice I can give you on the topic of serving tea to a group or hosting group tea sessions is to always read the room like a good drug dealer…
I suppose I have lived a rather interesting life. When I was quite young I was into a lot of meditation and hung out with and partied with a bunch of artists, hairstyles, and even some fringe academic types. Sometimes I would even mingle with the upper elites of political and business. Most likely for the diversity I could bring to the conversation of the night, I think. One such night I was invited to attend a very lavish wedding attended by the who’s who. It went well and was a lot of fun but as the wedding then descended into pub hopping and house partying we realized that my good friend had left her purse at the pub and when we returned to retrieve it it was obviously no where to be found. It put such a damper on an otherwise epic night.
We retreated back to a friends condo to try to salvage whatever we could of the fun time we had up until that point. We had a few drinks but couldn’t turn the sour mood. Then all of a sudden the mood started to lift, we were starting to laugh and joke again, dance again, engage in interesting conversation, transcending conversation really as our senses exploded into a kaleidoscope of passion. We partied late into the night - a night we will never forget for its sheer awesomeness.
It turns out later we shockingly found out that we were actually all drugged with MDMA in our drinks when we were trying to drink away our sorrows. The one who drugged us later told us that, like any good drug dealer, you always got to read the mood of the room.
When serving guests tea this advice is just as relevant. Read the mood and energy of the room and choose teas which bring the guests energetically to a certain place. Sometimes the guests are invited for dinner or drinks but sometimes it just turns into tea tasting rather spontaneously. Take them on a journey with the energy of the tea. Don’t force it. For me, I don’t hesitate to bring out the Bulang if guests are starting to get lame. Or a Lao Man E if the conversations are slow and long and boring. Trust me, the mood will change quickly! Sometimes I bring out the puerh with tranquilizing Qi if things are getting too intense at a gathering. Basically, I serve tea for the energy I want to put out there to the guests and implore the guests to go for a ride with me.
Don’t complicate things- serve 2 teas max maybe 3 only if you are hosting a few hard core tea people. More than 2 teas and the energy gets too muddled and unpredictable with larger groups. If you are hosting a really big group one carefully selected tea should be chosen wisely that should dictate the mood of the gathering. If you want them to try more tea- send them home with a sample instead.
Give them only relevant and interesting snippets of info just enough to spark curiosity about the tea and to draw them in. DO NOT NERD OUT. If they bite and want to know more, get into the story of the tea and what it personally means to you and what we can expect from it. Choose teas that you have a personal connection to.
Always send the guests home with doggie bags of samples of the teas you drank. Sometimes I even toss in full cakes. This allows the guests to take the experience home with them. It also allows experienced drinkers to try their hand at steeping it up with their own set up and brewing parameters. It allows them to develop their own relationship with the tea. It also allows them a chance to revisit their initial experience you offered them and an opportunity to go deeper with it.
If you follow this advice, every gathering will be a successful tea gathering.