Tea pluckers in Darjeeling
The word culture is used to refer to different things and different situations and its usage has been extended over time to include new meanings.
The term culture comes from the Latin cultus that derives from colere, meaning ‘to cultivate the land’. Originally it was used to designate a plot of cultivated land, and then it evolved to mean the action of cultivating the land. As time went by, the word culture acquired a metaphorical connotation and began to mean not just the practice of land cultivation but also the cultivation of the spirit and the intellect.
The Oxford Dictionary defines culture as follows:
- The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively: ‘20th century popular culture‘
- The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society: ‘Afro-Caribbean culture‘
- The cultivation of bacteria, tissue cells, etc. in an artificial medium containing nutrients: ‘the cells proliferate readily in culture‘
- The cultivation of plants: ‘this variety of lettuce is popular for its ease of culture‘
Drinking tea in Morocco
Definitions 1 and 2 refer to the most recent meaning predominate in everyday language. Thus, a “cultivated person” is one who has an interest in and an understanding of many different areas of knowledge. So we say that culture is the set of all the forms and expressions a human being possesses, and as such it includes customs, practices, norms of behaviour, belief systems, etc.
UNESCO says “… culture gives man the capacity of reflecting about himself. It makes each of us specifically human, rational, critical and ethically committed.”
There are few things in life that connect us so closely to the concept of culture as tea. Tea grows on cultivated land and nourishes the cultivation of the spirit. It has an ancestral history, with myths and legends. There is a diversity of people and nations who have cultivated the land and consumed tea all over the world for thousands of years, contributing to its history.
Drinking tea at the park
For example, Chinese people created the tea ceremony called “Gong Fu Cha”, which means ´brewing tea with great skill´. The Japanese adopted the whisked powdered tea as their ceremony, called ´Chanoyu´, in which they promote the principles of purity, harmony, respect and tranquillity. In Morocco, friends sit on the floor to share small glasses of sweetened green tea with mint, and they also offer this kind of tea to their customers in the markets before establishing any business. In the West, family and friends gather together at the tea table for fancy tea parties or informal tea times, to catch up on each other’s news and spend some time together.
Good tea is a product from the land, cultivated with deep knowledge, understanding, skill and love. When we drink it, we become connected to the earth where it grew, to the craftspeople who made the tea and to the culture of the land of its origin. As we enjoy it and share it with others, our souls are enriched and our spirits are cultivated and nourished. This is why at The Tea Club we always say that tea culture comes from the earth and cultivates our spirit.
Let your spirit be cultivated by tea!