Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Human tea leaves

I’ve been drinking tea for several years now, and have only recently come to appreciate the possibilities of green tea. Steeping can make or ruin it. In this process I see a parallel to the process of getting to know people. Unlike black tea, which is fairly forgiving, green tea needs a reduced temperature and steep time to coax out the best flavor, and the leaves should be allowed to unfurl. If you treat it like black tea, you may not get the most from it.

I wonder, do we always let people unfurl gently before us? Do we want to know what their best is, or do we sometimes demand that they be what we want them to be? I have been guilty many times of passing over people who aren’t instantly entertaining or knowledgeable on my favorite subjects, and sometimes I have found that they had much to offer that I hadn’t taken the time to discover. Perhaps this is behind the Asian way of doing business, to go through rituals of hospitality to find out who people are before finding out what they want.