Updated: Mar 25
Three friends climb out of a parked car on Sunday afternoon, heading towards tea shop for some herbal relaxation. An Asian girl can't help but feel apprehensive as her friend promises she won't be disappointed. And she believes him - for the most part - battling the growing pit in her stomach as she thinks back to every time she's been disappointed by a cheap knock off or misrepresentation of her culture.
She was happy to be wrong.
Greeted by a smiling face, and a familiar hello, the three friends are ushered towards a man who's taken the time to master his craft.
For the first time, she feels understood under twinkling lights hung by a people who've taken the time to learn who she is.
They are offered teas to taste from various routes a long the silk road. She tastes home and laughs with strangers.
A man pours fragrant liquid gold into a cup she holds.
He tells her stories of her home.
She looks to friends and says
"I'm so happy."
It's not often that people of color experience moments like this in America. To enter an establishment ran by white Americans, claiming to honor Asian heritage is usually a heart breaking event. Time after time we are faced with cheap representations of our traditions in order to paint a pretty picture for the purpose of mass consumerism.
But Tea and Whisk is different.
It is the perfect the representation of cultural appreciation, rather than appropriation.
It is a symbol of the possibilities for unity and love of all peoples.
Tea teachers have taken the time and care to learn the importance, traditional uses, and origins of every ingredient. They give the gift of education to people who would otherwise never care to find it. They give the gift of tolerance, and of understanding.
They bridge the gap between two worlds.
"Don't Hesitate to Create"