Holding Tea Hostage

There are some really dedicated tea folk out there — so dedicated that their most prized teas are almost like members of the family, being given comfortable quarters and moving with that family from house to house. So, what if someone decided to hold these teas hostage? Don’t laugh. Weirder things have happened. Much weirder.

The dreaded tea ransom note. (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)
The dreaded tea ransom note. (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Before we get to why anyone would kidnap and hold hostage some tea and what such a scenario might look like, let’s look at some kidnappings in the world of tea.

Some Tea-related Kidnappings

  • Tea garden manager kidnapped — The manager of a tea garden in the Piyong area of Arunachal Pradesh, India, was kidnapped by men dressed in Army uniforms. I guess they just wanted a good cuppa. But seriously, this is a growing problem in lots of areas where tea is grown, as the next story shows.
  • Attempt to kidnap tea baron’s nephew — The nephew of tea baron (“tea baron”? — whatever!) Raj Karan Daftari and noticed someone was chasing his car, but he was able to get away. Supposedly, the attempt was made by someone wanting the land and was also part of a political dispute. Geez! If you’re gonna go to all that effort, at least get some good tea out of it.
  • Cup of tea ends in kidnap — Going out for a cuppa in Ajman, Dubai, got a bit of a surprise. Instead of the beverage that soothes and invigorates, he was subjected to being kidnapped and held hostage with a ransom demand. Police rescued him. There is no information available about whether they had a tea party to celebrate.
  • Singapore Shipping Association Tea Talk on Piracy, Kidnap & Ransom Insurance and Ship Security — Held 24 May 2012 in Singapore — We think of Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Blood when it comes to piracy. But it was not the fun and games that movies make it out to be and in fact is still alive and well today. And poses a real threat to tea drinkers, since ships carrying cargo including tea are often the targets. The Singapore Shipping Association is working to address the problem.

What a Tea Hostage-taking Might Be Like

[Disclaimer: This is for entertainment purposes only. We strongly recommend that you treat all teas with due respect.]

The kidnappers sneak into your tea pantry or wherever your teas are stored. A good tea kidnapper will know which are the most premium and valuable teas right away, so even if you hide your rare pu-erhs or very special wild teas among the cheaper teas such as those dust-filled teabags, they will be able to zero in on them (just like jewel thieves can tell your paste and costume jewelry from the real McCoy), so don’t bother with such deceptive practices. The kidnapper could just get annoyed and take it out on your teas. Or he/she may decide to take all of the teas just to teach you a lesson.

Once the tea has been transported to its hiding place, the kidnapper will contact you with demands, usually for some kind of ransom. If you decide to pay it, your tea will usually be returned to you intact. Otherwise, you might receive a package in the mail containing some leaves that have been subjected to excess heat, humidity, and air to serve as a warning so that you finally acquiesce and pay up. Occasionally, the kidnapper will make demands, not for ransom, but for such things as a nice teapot or some fresh-baked scones. This is bad news for your tea that is being held hostage as it indicates that the tea may be in the hands of a real tea connoisseur and not actually being held hostage. In that case, you will have to decide which you value more — a good tea party with the kidnappers or the satisfaction of knowing that you stood your ground and didn’t cave, thus forcing the kidnappers to get their teapots and scones elsewhere. Of course, it does raise the question of why they didn’t just kidnap these things along with the tea. But then, if they thought that logically, they wouldn’t be kidnapping tea in the first place.

Cheers and keep your tea pantry secured.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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