As a tea person with quite a number of aspects of my personal, social and professional life being centered around tea, I have among other things developed a tea-based system of controlling visitors to my house that has become not only increasingly efficient in the course of the years, but has also reached a probably unprecedented level of sophistication by now and might therefore be well worth being shared.
As a basic pre-condition, I need to mention that most visitors to my house are NOT tea people, this meaning that they wouldn’t know much about tea, have near-zero experience with the more elaborate ways of enjoying tea, and would never be able to tell about any subtle differences in both style and taste either. None of this would work with experienced tea drinkers, whereas I am not even sure that anything like this would work with experienced tea drinkers.
To describe that system it will be necessary to define three basic categories of visitors-to-your-house first and add the way I suggest to influence their future visiting habits to each group respectively:
Beloved people are people whose presence you really enjoy, so their visit to your house will always be a highly desired event. I will carefully select the tea I am offering to those, based on the criteria popularity and easy accessibility, so a mild and rich Darjeeling, a particularly fine Ti Guan Yin, or even a particularly pleasant but unobtrusive scented green tea (such as a high-grade Osmanthus green tea). Also, I will teach them about that tea, explain everything in detail, starting from the tea’s origin and particularities of its processing to the way I am preparing it, Chinese Gong Fu Cha style, with my best and most beautiful accessories and being set in my most comfortable and pleasant ambient.
I will usually manage to create a wonderful visiting experience for them, where they feel that they have been given something very precious, so they will always want to repeat that experience and visit again. In the best cases, they will actually even learn more about tea and to enjoy it, so with time I might be able to introduce them to the more subtle and more difficult to access higher orders of Pouchong Oolong or Pu Er teas.
Important people are people who you might not particularly like or enjoy to be with, but still they are important (for you) and the last thing on earth you would wish would be to embarrass them with their visit to your house and thereby trigger possible negative consequences for you. These could be relatives, of course, such as the proverbial mother-in-law, or neighbors, or community or opinion leaders who might mean nothing or less than that to you, but they still have parts of your fate in their hands, so you just couldn’t afford to piss them off at all. I think you know what people I mean.
These people, I will serve the more sophisticated higher order tea right away, leaving no doubts about the rareness and exquisiteness of that particular Oolong tea, but instead of teaching them about it, I will leave them with the painstaking idea that the highest of arts is happening right in front of them, while they just don’t understand a thing. I will torture them with my tea ceremony, watch them as they will play with the aroma cup sets, not knowing what to do with them, throwing all of the precious liquid right on my carpet when trying to figure out how to actually drink this, or finally either drink from the long cup or leaving it on the table in the first place, until I will tell them that their tea is cold now and no longer good, and that they have just spoilt an enormous value. And if even if they might eventually get to try a sip of that tea, clueless as they are you don’t really need to be afraid that they will actually like it.´
I could easily go into further detail, but the essence of the idea is that you have been the perfect host that nothing bad will be said or even thought about, while you have managed to create a situation that your visitor will be more than happy to escape in the end and definitely think twice before ever taking chances for a recurrence again.
Undesirable, unimportant people
These are people, whose presence you do not enjoy and who also are of no importance for you at all. Actually, those are most easy, since you’ll simply never offer such person any tea! Some might consider it a good idea to offer such people some kind of bad tea instead, but that would actually be rule No. 1: never offer any bad tea to anybody! Not only could you never be sure, if not somebody would still interpret your approach as a polite and welcoming gesture, or, misguided as some people are, even like that particular tea, and second it would be you who’d have to join your visitor drinking it.
See more of Thomas Kasper’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.