People always ask me when I became interested in tea. I always have a hard time answering this, to be honest. I cannot remember a single moment, event, or day in my life that didn’t involve tea. My interest wasn’t birthed from some grand epiphany of the beauty and benefits tea had; it was just inherently part of my life.
I was raised by my mother, an Irish hippie named Mag. I have always referred to her as Mag. When strangers questioned this, she would quickly respond, “That is my name. Why would she call me mom when my name is Mag?”
My upbringing was an obscure combination of old school European manners mixed with a New Age philosophy of expanding consciousness and alternative thinking. I grew up vegetarian, practicing meditation, and family vacations were backpacking through Oregon (with nothing but my stuffed animal tied to my waist because I was too little to carry a pack). When I asked the questions every child asks like, “Are ghosts and aliens real?” the answer was, very simply “Yes.” This, of course, was much to the dismay of my childhood imagination and the shadows created from the window in my bedroom.
Mag kept me safe but refused to shelter me. If I was scared of jumping off a rock, my ass was jumping off that rock. I was shown first hand that fear was irrelevant in life and a waste of time. She pushed me to ask questions and to always try to see the goodness in people, even if they were seemingly horrid.
Through all of these adventures and stages in my life, tea always was there. It has always been in the background of my overall life story, I suppose. Tea was always packed for trips, ready in the morning before school and again at night before bed. Mag was often mixing herbs into teas and tinctures when I was sick or adding sugar to a cup when it was a special occasion. Tea was just part of me. It was never center stage, it was just an extension of my existence and upbringing.
As I got older my interest swayed to the arts and I attended university to study fine art. I worked in galleries for some years in New York City, but after a while, began to feel the impact of, well...of my lack of impact. I couldn’t figure out what I was actually doing. Mag had gone to extensive lengths to engrain an understanding of my personal impact on the world, and I could not even define how I was providing a positive contribution to my own community. I had no real achievements or goals beyond the conventional monetary accomplishments I had made in my career.
Aesthete Tea was not born of some huge epiphany; it was simple really. As a child, I would blend herbs and drink tea with Mag. That made sense to me. As an adult I kept desperately trying to find my path, understand my meaning, and set my goals. The more I pushed myself, the less fulfilled I felt. I came to a point where I stripped it all away— all of the education, expectation, and pressures, and tried to remember when I was truly happy. I honed in on what I was doing and who I was with during those moments. What I realized was, I was happy when I was drinking tea, hanging out with Mag, not trying to “understand” myself but just knowing myself. At nine years old I was able to truly manifest my own destiny because my needs and goals were so pure and simple. As an adult, I had used irrelevant material objects to represent my achievements. Once I realized this, I knew this was causing my unfulfillment. I decided that if I minimized my needs and goals, I could reach my full potential and thus be happy.
Therefore, Aesthete Tea became a literal display of my pursuit of happiness: It is minimalist and pure with a positive, ethical impact and message for not only the consumer but also for the farmer, blender, and everyone in between.
The mantra of Aesthete Tea is: Be unapologetically kind and grateful for everything; and when you find happy, share it.
Tea is my happy and I want to share that.
P.S- In Vedantic tradition, a student or disciple does everything in the name of their Guru or Swami in a further effort to remove the Ego. My beliefs are confusing and conflicted, to say the least, but I respect that tradition. So in the spirit of those beautiful traditions of our ancestors- this one's for you Mag. Sorry I was mad at you for not letting me eat Dunk-a-Roos when I was younger, I now understand they are poison. lol.