`At the end of the day’ is not only a well used idiom but also a state of fact, which is many things to many people. For example, for those involved with commercial transactions it might be their signal for the kettle to go on; in another time for those same people it might have been the time to count `bricks’, and then put the kettle on. Tea Bricks were once upon a time, as American Express might say, the businessman’s passport, along the Tea Horse Road – As much a part of Chinese culture as they might have been a part of the Boston Tea Party.
History and culture go together with trade, like toast and butter with tea or coffee. However, in terms of learning it’s not only the lessons from history than can be appreciated. No matter what, might be a tad over-enthusiastic when considering `watching paint dry’, but in general terms most people who have an enthusiastic interest, as opposed to a mania or obsession, are fascinating to talk with, to watch and to learn from.
Fortunate to have witnessed a Chado Tea Ceremony from the land of Kaizen whose management principle is about the little things making a difference to the bigger things, the preference of `leaf over bag’ for one tea enthusiast here no longer seemed too pedantic, although the choice of teas available to us needed alchemy to turn those loose leafs into an elixir of enjoyment. It therefore almost became infatuation after discovering Imperial Teas’ `we want one of those as our office’ tea-tasting cavern and their Learning-by-Sharing business model.
Family run, the smell of their coffee certainly woke us up to how merchants could run their businesses. Entering a sensory feast we were encouraged to take our time and look around the jars of coffee beans, shelves with pots, cafétiers and all things coffee which occupied our vision. Fusion between art and history exemplified tea with the stunning pots, cups, saucers, bowls and other tea based stock. After taking the contents in, Ben who most certainly knew his product and its complexities, guided us through our likes and dislikes and, not being able to make up our minds, suggested that we try some of their coffee at the coffee house opposite or have a tea tasting session in the ‘below stairs’ of their building; a white-walled, light and airy, crypt-type space with tables, chairs, teas and cake. Grouped into taste-types for selection , we had Sophie on hand to answer any questions and assist with our exploratory choices for our personal mini tea tasting. Preparatory technique included a timer, so that it was drunk at the right time of infusion, and water being at correct temperature for the perfect brew in our mini-masterclass.
As Ben says, the only way to find out whether you like it for real is to try it. With an `Outside the Box’ approach to their business model, continually sharing their knowledge shows there is always something to learn and we all gain something. Having made our choices, at the end of the day, we can now garner a little piece of tranquillity, to reflect on the components of good business and the ritual of tea making; the quest for greatness in the smallest of details, graciousness and politeness.
(Image credit: moonlightbulb Article credit: Copyright SUF)