There is a powerful emotion that the act of pouring a cup of tea evokes. Visually, the cues include the appearance of the amber liquid pouring into cups, mugs or bowls, and settling from its gentle motion to give rise to wisps of steam. It is also the aroma – sometimes floral, sometimes piquant, sometimes fruity.
The presence of two cups and a teapot, irrevocably suggests and at the same time demand companionship. Difficult though it may be to comprehend, at a time when there are more people on earth than ever before, most armed with technology that gives them the ability to communicate in more than one way instantly, time for tea is more vital then ever before.
The phenomenon described by MIT professor and psychologist Sherry Turkle, as ‘the flight from conversation’ is one that is indelibly erasing an element of what makes us human. Conversation is not talk alone; we relate to each other, empathise and understand one another through our conversations and the host of visual, physical ancillaries that we use in communicating with others. We do of course converse, probably more than ever, yet the unsophisticated means we now use – SMS, BMS, Facebook, Twitter – cannot in any way replace conversation. Permitting the mirage of online contact to replace genuine interaction risks distilling life into an emotionally empty state, lacking the warmth of a smile, the sincerity in a cry for help, the unspoken sentiments expressed in gestures and touch.
This brings me back to our teapot, for where a teapot is offered with two or more cups alongside there is surely a wonderful conversation about to take place.
Tea – whether poured from a teapot or brewed in a mug – is equally a companion in itself. Sipping cups of tea in the company of friends or family in distress does not require words to be spoken for the act of taking tea together forms an expression that has soothed minds and healed relationships over centuries. Even when enjoyed alone, tea maintains its importance for vital for companionship and activity is the occasional moment alone. There is no more comfortable moment of solitude, whether for reflection or inspiration, than a moment spent with a cup of fine tea.
Before the illusion of companionship isolates us to an extent where we lose touch of our own humanity, we need to restart the conversation, and there is no more natural way that I can think of, than over a cup of tea. In the words of my father, who in his lifelong devotion to tea and ethics has added another dimension to the link between humanity and tea,
For centuries problems of mankind have been solved over a cup of tea.
Whether they were problems between nations, amongst businesses, even in families, between husbands and wives, tea has been the soothing balm that helped their solution.
The simple act of pouring a cup of tea is, in itself, an ice-breaker; providing pleasurable anticipation of the goodness that is to follow.
I have dedicated my life to providing that cup; not only to solve problems but to add sunshine, to your day, with every sip of my Dilmah.
Merrill J. Fernando, Founder of Dilmah Tea