Growing up, I've never met anyone in my family or in my friends' families who owned their own business. My parents have worked 9-5 jobs their whole lives. Despite - or maybe because of - their constant reminders for me to focus on finding a secure, low-risk livelihood, I have consistently defied their wishes and actively sought out the roads not taken.
In my 20s, I worked as a high school math and science teacher in Taiwan and Jordan. I spent a year funemployed, backpacking through Asia (which is how I met my husband). I did a Master's program in Buddhism with no professional objectives at all. And throughout the last decade, I was falling in love with tea. At first, the encounters were few and far between; a gift from a friend here, a trip to a tea shop there. Before I knew it, I was hosting regular tea gatherings for upwards of 10 people in my tiny living room.
While in grad school, I was lucky enough to receive two grants that funded tea exploration trips, one in the Pacific Northwest, and the other in Yunnan, China. The more I learned, the deeper I tumbled down the rabbit hole. There was so much generosity, kindness, hospitality, and the spirit of friendship among all those that I encountered. There is a bit of scandal and intrigue as well, as any rich culture with a long history does. Above all, I realized, there's nothing as delightful as being able to taste a good tea. It is a thing of utmost beauty and charm, and utterly humbling. It makes me go, "Oh, I didn't expect to encounter beauty in this form, right here and now. How can something so humble yet so beautiful exist in this world? Am I worthy of this beauty?"
You know the movie, "Jiro Dreams of Sushi"? I started to have dreams about tea. Fantasies and visions about my future teahouse kept me awake at night. What kind of furniture and decor would I have? Could I make a little garden area outside too? How can I create a peaceful and elegant, yet comfortable and unpretentious setting? How can I cultivate myself through this undertaking? And most importantly, how can I share the beauty of tea with others?
I'm turning 30 this year, and it's the Year of the Tiger, good for making bold moves, they say. I wonder how my tea journey will continue to unfold, and what will manifest next...!