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Women Empowering Women - Especially Tea Drinkers

February 19, 2021

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Black History Month reminds me of how I need to continue to be astute, continue to learn about African American history, be present, and support change in my sphere of influence. In fact, there are many Black women who have inspired through the years especially through the arts and music which is what I love.

My lifetime calling is about celebrating women, sharing the wisdom they taught, then resharing or recreating what I learned to the next generation of children, especially as I am a mother of three. It is also about continuing to build sisterhood with women who lead by example every day. And at this moment, I’m honoring Ms. Winfrey - an African American woman who inspires many. You may say that it isn’t necessary, as she has touched the lives of many. As cliché as it sounds with her Gift to connect at the soul level, her celebrity and global scale of philanthropy, even a no-name like me, has had the honor and privilege of being in her presence and to be personally impacted by her.

Oprah Winfrey

Sure, many call her Oprah and she was Oprah to me for a very long time until I had the opportunity to meet and work with her six years ago through my former employer. We didn’t have too much of a dialogue per se as we both were in business mode to get the mission accomplished to custom develop a chai tea first, then expand the portfolio with additional tea blends and teaware. Not only was the tea development process fun, but it made the innovation more meaningful as 100% of the proceeds from the product in collaboration with Starbucks would go to causes Ms. Winfrey is most passionate about: youth education and mentorship.

One of the most admired and impactful women in the world, many people have asked the question, “How was she? Is she like how you see her on TV?” I presume because there are too many public figures who have a different persona in the public vs. the non-public eye. I can full-heartedly attest that based on my interactions with her, she is down-to-earth and honest, exudes wisdom, love, and does have a worldly aura about her sending a graceful vibe of endless warmth. She makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the room, at that moment, in that time. Kind of like the Japanese tea saying Ichigo, Ichie, a tea philosophy I mention in my Matcha post.

LESSONS LEARNED

Small Welcoming Gestures Are Never Forgotten

One of my favorite podcasts today is "Oprah’s Master Class."  I love listening to what her hand-picked luminaries share with what they’ve learned in their lives. As Ms. Winfrey puts it, “Everybody has a story and there is something to be learned from every experience.” Life is all about what we do with the knowledge and experience we’ve learned & gained to always do better.

In Ms. Winfrey fashion, I take opportunities as a gift. We are given these rare opportunities to learn, make change, and do good in the world. After reading Ms. Winfrey’s essay about her Indian chai experience, strengthened and reaffirmed my understanding of how much she loves tea and the experience created from drinking the beverage. You gotta love the Internet; I found the article archive link here: From Oprah's Kitchen: The Beauty of Brewing the Perfect Cup of Tea

You don’t have to have a lot to make someone feel welcome to your home and feel special. It is the small gestures, especially the ‘giving kind’ that will leave us with a life-lasting experience and shared memory. As an adopted child, my family always made me feel like I was part of their family, no questions asked. My extended family in Japan would always sit me down with a cup of green tea where we could talk about all the little and big things happening in our lives at that moment, in that time. I’d like to continue to have conversations and dialogue with tea drinkers so we can use our platform to do better wherever we are.

Build Global CommuniTEA Awareness For Specialty Teas

When we developed the chai together, the tea was successfully marketed, enjoyed, and had a social impact tie-in for youth education and mentorship through various organizations. What many people didn’t know, as we didn’t talk enough about it is the touch of red rooibos added to the blend for its natural sweet, caramel, malty notes. Native to the Mt. Cederberg region of South Africa, it isn’t until very recently that the local government and tea industry started to compensate the indigenous people. They have been cultivating this elixir which has been enjoyed by so many tea drinkers around the world for its flavor and tea benefits for centuries.

Tea is the second most drunk beverage in the world other than water, yet the specialty loose-leaf tea presence and experience is lost in the market saturation of the commoditized version like teabags. Tea is global and it is our responsibility as tea purveyors to continue to provide and educate tea drinkers about the quality and benefits of single-origin teas, botanicals, and spices among the clouded and crowded market space of generic quality.

WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE

Ms. Winfrey Chai Beverage Recipe

Ms. Winfrey loves her chai bold and strong. She does not drink coffee. Her favorite is the classic black tea – a robust, bold, full-leafed Assam black tea with her favorite spices: cinnamon in the forefront & a medley of cardamom, ginger, clove, and a touch of black pepper for the finish. She loves her chai strong with a splash of plant-based milk. Her recipe = 1 Tablespoon per cup vs. the standard 1 tsp. per cup 😊

Make The Change, Be The Change

Chai recipe aside, we are only a hairline in this universe. We don’t know when but all of us will be gone from this body, this earth. So, make the change, be the change, do good to the human race. Key To Teas mission is to create a modern-day tea culture but most importantly we are rooted in our mission to donate 1% of our total sales to advocate for women and children in underserviced communities.

WHAT NEXT?

2021 is a season of tremendous growth and change for many and for Key To Teas. God’s plan is constantly at work and we feel His presence strongly. We know our purpose and platform and want to continue to gain clarity and focus towards processes and building partnerships to continue to plant the seed, nurture and execute our mission and social purpose. With the same breath, we need to decolonize tea to raise awareness of the socio-economic conditions that exist. For those who’d like to tackle the issue head-on, I couldn’t have better-raised awareness than Charlene Wang de Chen, a writer who candidly and eloquently raises the issue and gives us action plans in this article below:

It’s Time to Decolonize Tea — Whetstone Magazine

If you read this far, I know you enjoy and care about your wonderous tea. Please continue to join me in celebrating women, building community, and appreciating specialty loose-leaf teas so we can impact the industry while inspiring and loving one another, one tea drinker at a time.

If you’re curious, here is a video snapshot of The Making of Teavana Oprah Chai - Video

After many years, the people who collaborated on this project have moved on to continue to do good in their spheres of influence. The spirit and the essence of Inspiring the Human Spirit remain unscathed. This is a testament to communities aligned with a shared purpose and of course, Ms. Winfrey’s legacy and many she’s touched without her directly knowing.

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