Does Tea Matter?

My dad is big on hospitality. When I was a teenager, any friend of mine who visited our home was asked without fail what they would like to drink—lemonade, pop, tea. . . .

Not if. What.


I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but years later, several of my friends mentioned this. That it had been a relatively unique experience for them. That it had stuck with them.

Looking back, I realize that my parents’ simple gesture of hospitality set up my friends as guests. They were not simply kids, but guests, worthy of true consideration—in a manner, treated as peers of my parents.

Hospitality changes the lens through which we view the world.


In my in-laws’ close-knit rural town, a tradition was to go “for coffee”—a ritual that was woven into the fabric of the community. Perhaps a table or two of women, or when we went, a family, but mostly men at large round tables. Discussing crops, local news, weather. Hundreds of cups of coffee had permeated the advertising mugs, rendering even bad teabag tea undrinkable, I quickly learned.

Did anyone care about the quality or strength of the coffee? Not at all. It was strictly about community.

Think about the times that you are served really bad tea or coffee in a styrofoam cup. Meetings and work functions? At a party? In a hospital or funeral home? How it tastes never matters. It is mindlessly drinking a hot beverage while debating issues or making small talk or complaining.

Or it is the comfort of holding a hot cup—even styrofoam—when facing profound sadness.

Hospitality changes the lens through which we view the world.

We are easily swayed by our own perceptions, our surroundings, the people around us. Studies, for instance, have shown that:wine_sm

~the color of the cup influences how people rate the flavor of coffee and hot chocolate

~people who like strong coffee drink more of it when the room is brightly lit, whereas those who like weaker coffee drink more of it in dim light

~the perceived idea of how much a wine costs influences how people rate its flavor


And clearly, being the recipient of an act of hospitality or being part of a community colors how we view what we consume.

Yes, I prefer my favorite organic loose leaf tea, perfectly steeped. Yes, my husband prefers impeccably roasted, freshly ground coffee beans brewed in a French press. But how often is it really about community and hospitality instead?

So yes, tea—and coffee and soda and wine and icy cold water—matters. Not the least of which is so you can share it with someone else.

Because hospitality colors our world in beautiful ways.


–McRaney, David. “‘You Are Not So Smart’: Why We Can’t Tell Good Wine from Bad.” The Atlantic, Oct. 28, 2011.
–Van Doorn, George H., Dianne Wuillemin, and Charles Spence. “Does the colour of the mug influence the taste of the coffee?” Flavour 3:10, 2014.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s