On the "eve" of Ontario's third stay-at-home order, this blog post feels...relevant.
In March 2021, All Things Tea launched its first-ever virtual tea and book club. It's easy to say that we went this way because of COVID-19, a way of pivoting business. And sure - that is a fact. But there is something much deeper. You see, we've always known that tea is a grand connector of people. Like so many others, we have felt the longing for human connection and really wanted to create a platform for this to happen.
Famed British author C.S. Lewis once said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." It was stumbling upon this [very true!] quote that got us to thinking about a virtual tea and book club. I mean...why not? Legendary companions, tea and books. And what better way to connect people than through reading and tea drinking? A Meeting of Leaves, All Things Tea's virtual tea and book club was promptly born. Tea-themed books were furiously researched and compiled for the 6-month journey. A kit brimming with fine loose-leaf teas for the tasting and handcrafted bookmarks by local fibre artist, Carolyn Parks of Blue Sky Art Studio in St. Jacobs were made. We were nervous. Will people be interested? Will they join? Will they find value...because for us, it is all about the value; we want to enrich lives (wow - a lofty statement...but a sincere one).
Our inaugural "chapter" of book club members (21 of us - sold out!) have collectively read our first book, "The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane". We have had lively conversation, explored perspectives, and we have tasted and learned about fine 5-year Golden Pu-Erh. It was positively wonderful to connect with people over tea and books - even from afar. In between meetings, members stay connected in an active (private) Facebook group. We share thoughts, jokes, interesting posts. And what we've learned is that when an effort to make a connection is made...connection is made. Tea and books are the tools, but people have to pick up the tools and use them, you know? And we've really done that. We feel fortunate; we are drinking the world's best tea, reading the most interesting books...and in the midst of it all, we are making friends. If that isn't "success", then what is? A small win in a world facing big problems.
If you are interested in the next "chapter" of All Things Tea's virtual tea and book club (launching September 2021), we encourage you to email Susie at firstname.lastname@example.org to be placed on a waitlist.
Just think - new friends in waiting! Until then, keep reading, keep sipping. This too shall pass.
This was such a great idea, and I’m so happy I signed up. Thanks for all your hard work, Susie! I can’t wait for our next meeting!
This concept is amazing, but the delivery has been – so far – stellar. I’m not sure how to articulate this, but I feel that this experience has been like a piece of travel – metaphorically and literally. We were invited to connect with one another well before the actual book club date in a private group. We had a special parcel delivered to us filled with ‘mystery teas’ (can’t open till book club date!), a wet felted bookmark, a tea strainer with spoon, and more. This felt like Christmas morning. Then came the actual book club meeting. It was so well organized, with Susie bringing her great personality and expertise to facilitating our gang. She asked compelling questions, taught us about tea, presented us with a tea that reflected a central tea theme in the book, and shared images and tidbits expanding our understanding of a culture. As an extra special treat, she reached out to the book author who responded – twice! This was a fully immersive experience that raised the bar way above anything I’ve experienced in a book club. Thanks for the brilliant club, Susie!
Thank you for hosting the first (of what shall be many) meeting of the book club! It was a great experience to connect with the others on the deep topics from the first book and to taste a new type of tea for the first time. Cheers to many “firsts” to come!
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