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Note #39: Teatime wisdom (2009.4.3)

Hyunjin and I have been waking up early for the past week—around 4:20, to be precise (I’ll talk about why in a Journal entry in the near future). As part of our efforts to wake ourselves up, Hyunjin has a cup of coffee and I have a cup of tea: English Breakfast tea from Twinings, to be precise. As I was sipping my tea, my eyes wandered down to the empty teabag package and the simple graphic brewing instructions.

I have stared at these packages every morning this week, but I guess I was never really paying attention. Today, though, I noticed something interesting about the graphic on the left, namely the equation printed at the bottom: “Person equals teabag.” Of course, I had seen it before, and my mind automatically made the substitution: “One teabag for one cup of tea.” Today, however, my mind was operating a little differently. I began to wonder if that little graphic equation had any deeper meaning. I took a look at the box and found a short blurb titled: “The Twinings Philosophy.”

A cup of Twinings Tea provides a delicious diversion from the everyday. For 300 years we’ve pursued our passion and commitment to one thing—assuring you the world’s finest tea experience. Twinings travels thousands of miles through exotic tea gardens across many continents to capture the best possible teas and flavours. With expert blending, Twinings creates the richest journey in black, green and herbal teas.

Hmm. Interesting, but not exactly what I would call a philosophy... a mission statement, maybe. Anyway, it didn’t get me any closer to understanding the meaning hidden in that simple graphic. Then, as I took another sip from my tea, it hit me. I decided to share the wisdom with Hyunjin.

“People are teabags.”


I showed her the graphic. “People are teabags. Hot water represents trials. When we undergo a trial, if we do things right, we produce delicious tea. If not, we just produce bitterness.”

It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s close enough. It doesn’t end there, though. Turns out that Twinings has more wisdom for us. It wasn’t until later that I turned the box and saw the brewing directions printed on the side.

The image on the left takes the analogy to the next level: one person may be one teabag, but two people are three teabags. Two people going through trials alone will only produce the equivalent of two teabags worth of tea, but put those two people together and you get three teabags worth of tea! I could only marvel at the wisdom of the tea folks at Twinings.

Yeah, I know this is all slightly absurd, the product of a sleep-deprived mind, but I’m not kidding about the lesson learned. A few hours after I acquired this teatime wisdom, I found out that some friends of mine are going through a pretty major trial right now. I was upset and angry when I heard, mainly because there is not much I can do about it. Despite the darkness, though, these friends of mine have each other. I don’t want to sound trite, or downplay the seriousness of the situation with my semi-humorous musings above, but I know that they both still have what is most precious to them, and they will make it through this together. Trever and Emily, you’re in our prayers.

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