The romantic side of tea or the microsociology of tea

Harney and Sons Teascopia

Harney and Sons NYC

I spend time reading and looking for information about tea: trends, latest discoveries, news, tasting and visiting tea places because it is essential for my occupation and most of all, because it interests me. But sometimes or may I say most of the times, I end up – besides accumulating an enormous amount of information – wandering away, thinking about things that may not be relevant within the context of the tea industry, thinking about tea in everyday life or as I would like to call it “the romantic side of tea.” The other day a friend told me: “I am not having a good relationship with tea lately. We aren’t good friends anymore…” And why is that? I said. “I don’t know, I don’t know, it just happened.” Few days later he came home and I made tea. I said: “Try this, I think it could restore your relationship with tea.” He had a sip and immediately said: “What is it? With this of course you regain your faith in tea!” I loved it and I thought to myself, people do establish relationships with tea and that is fantastic. Last week, I was making copies of my Tea Sommelier CV in a copy place. Few days later I went back and the guy from the store asked me: “I am drinking rooibos these days because my homeopath banned me from caffeine. Is rooibos good for me?” So we started a conversation and I even promised to give him some lemongrass and rose infusion to taste. And I also thought, how nice it is to have a conversation about tea in Barcelona with the guy from the copy store who also happens to be a tap dancer.

Petersham Nurseries Teascopia

Petersham Nurseries London

It is in these ordinary and random stories, conversations and the daily act of drinking tea where I find motivation and inspiration for myself and for my blog. It also crossed my mind that if you put all these stories and ideas together they might turn into a some sort of “microsociology of tea.” It is in the nature of everyday human social interactions where microsociology stands and where my approach to tea also belongs to: the interpretative analysis and subjective observation. So I am not only interested in the technical aspects of tea but also in the way people relate to it: the private and social rituals of making tea, tea as a cultural institution, a religious practice, a fancy trend, a popular drink, all at the same time. In how “tea culture” varies across countries and people.

I also love to hear people’s stories on how they started drinking tea and meaningful anecdotes they remember. I love when people offer me tea. I love to know about their preferences and choices and to think about the endless possibilities of taste. I love the reactions of people when they experience different flavours and smell different aromas and discover something new. In a nutshell, I am drawn by “our ability to see greatness in small things” as Muriel Barbery wisely said and how these little things become meaningful to us, whether that is in the world of tea or in life.



  1. Nicole Martin

    We definitely do form relationships with tea. I’ve been working in tea shops in New York City over the last year and it’s been a great opportunity for people watching. I love figuring out what a person needs from tea and helping them to find the tea that is exactly what they are looking for.

    • Gabriela Prieto

      Hi Nicole, thanks for stopping by! It must be a great opportunity for you to see the way people relate to tea in real life: their choices, tastes, preferences, in their very own and personal way. It is also interesting that you become part of that process when you give a recommendation or just by having a conversation with a customer. I am sure you already have so many stories to tell! Thanks for your comment and I hope to see you around! X Gabriela

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