Friday, August 14, 2020 - STOP BEING SUSTAINABLE

Video Subtitles:

i'm muted yeah you uh mute the instagram
mute your phone
that should help we'll hear each other
from here
and then talk from here should be good
is anyone here in the echo
yeah ray i think our audio is all good
we should be able to
to go yeah
okay hello
everybody welcome to the tea house
we're mountie or multi app
streaming and i'm very excited to
to partner with um elise as the first
proper episode in the tea house hang out
with us such a
promising start as we're going to be
talking about the future
and um and where we are right now and
i've been really contemplating on one
word which is
sustainable and it's been i have to be
honest that
it's been really troubling me for quite
a bit ever since particularly the nomad
tea festival
and i was just sort of wondering what
that actually means
and then led me to check on the
dictionary and
and sustainability says causing little
no damage to the environment
and therefore able to continue for a
long time so
i think we're a bit too late
to apply this word in both concepts and
in our practice
so i guess this is a time for us to come
be very cautious when we
say this word because it has its
outdatedness so the general i guess
um since it's since it's a tea house
from the grass people trees the the
tea house virginia and george have been
there um
mafauda and adrian have been there so
it's it's
i guess it's a tea table it's a space
where encourages
um openness and uh trust
expression from all angles and
in the tea house we deal with the truth
in the tea house we also talk about
things that come
from the roots so i guess i'm gonna
by welcoming you all
um to come into my home i guess
and also um thank you elise for
for joining in today and and blessing us
with your experience and knowledge and
um i'm gonna start by asking
i guess i'm just gonna start with with
with the word the truth
um elise what do you see
um in the in the truth of sustainability
being sustainable and what you're
in seeing these truths or living this
truth and what does that mean to you
yeah it means a lot to me i mean it's
been the focus of my work
for over a decade now actually close to
20 years now i'm getting old
um but it's so interesting uh
this the prompt of bringing this
conversation together
uh and your idea that it's too late to
be sustainable
is something that i've never thought
about before
which is incredible and it's so true you
know we've been so focused
on trying to hit this ideal of
um you know which is it's impossible and
what's ended up happening is the term
been co-opted and used
to the advantage of the whole system
created the problems in the first place
and so it's really discouraging to see
that the power dynamic is in the
towards you know that
violence it's essentially violence you
know maybe not physical violence but
it's a violence in um
uh it's violence in taking something
from somebody else
assuming power over something somebody
else um
you know the whole concept of
colonization which you know has been
kind of the term used lately in the
conversations which is great
um so unfortunately i think there's an
echo in instagram so you know um
maybe we can keep rolling on instagram
so people can see that we're talking and
see what's going on but then i'll um
i'll pin it um a comment uh that people
can join
um you know through the other social
channels to see it
on the computer but um
i think it might be it might be for me
i don't know whether i managed to mute
is is it better now
no i think i think there's still a
little bit of an echo
sorry guys thank you for your patience
so yeah the the topic means a lot to me
it's been my work
uh and you know up until about
six months ago i you know genuinely
really felt like i was alone
in this uh in this journey in this
um you know kind of
battle i guess to help the
world help itself and so
i mean i guess changing the nomenclature
would be really
important uh because like you say
something like stop being sustainable
and you know people that have been
trying to be sustainable may find
offense to that and i don't think that's
your intention there your intention
there is to help people realize
what the goal really is um which is just
making the world better
ultimately i think it can just be summed
up to that
um so yeah yeah learning to ask more
uh because this is this is another thing
that i've i've
i've realized over the past few months
is that
our education in modern society
like yeah we go to schools yes we can
read books yes we can google the
internet and read blogs and
discover new things but ultimately the
majority of people
in this modern world are educated by
and you know you think about things like
fact checking
there are like national level
fact-checking organizations
that will fact check the news fact check
um books and peer-reviewed articles
but then when it comes to our marketing
and what we learn uh through facebook
ads or what we learn from billboard ads
or what we learn
from from all these things
is never factual
and that's that's a big deal i feel
um and so uh
how do we mass fact check marketers and
make sure that marketers are being
authentic and honest
and contributing to our knowledge base
hindering it um that's like a huge
problem that
you know i've recently started to like
spin the wheels on i know it's like
outside of the realm of my own work
but there's no reason why i can't
participate in and trying to find that
solution but
from the other direction we can just
become more responsible marketers
and that's that's what we have control
over ourselves
as tea business people so
um we're doing it right we're doing the
how do you see us moving jiggling around
in this confined space
using technology i mean i think that's
that's the main thing and
we're doing it right now so um
doing more of it empowering um
the consumer to be able to read through
is going to be really powerful let the
let the consumer know what's right and
wrong for them versus
trusting a label trusting you know like
the the biggest
perpetrator of this is fair trade and so
like whenever i used to pitch to
investors um potential business
investors about
you know they say oh the tea market is
only this big and you're only
gonna attack like a small niche segment
of the tea market
so it can't be a big business and i say
no no no no if we're not
trying to uh infiltrate the tea market
uh we're trying to bring goodness
to the fair trade international market
which actually the retail value of
fair trade international is 50 billion
dollars a year
it's a lot of money people spend uh
pretty much solely because they trust
that label they trust that certification
uh that it means something that it means
the people were
were paid fairly or that um
the carbon emissions were you know
that's what i
thought fair trade meant that's actually
what i thought organic meant as well and
as a food scientist when i was fresh out
of college
i went through the fair trade
certification process
in a factory it took me about six months
to do the whole process and i was super
jaded i was like this is not organic
like this is bs it's just
like a administrative hoops that you
could jump through and it's really just
a thing you pay for
um and fair trade is perhaps even worse
and perhaps even more costly with less
about uh how that work is actually
influencing you know the the origin of
our products
so uh just to give some context i say
this so many times but maybe there's
someone watching that hasn't heard this
before but
fairtrade international is a for-profit
they uh require a farm as well as all
the points
of value add throughout the value chain
to be certified and to be audited
and paying the annual fee
when they come and audit you they only
hold you accountable for following the
local labor laws
so you know in a place like west bengal
where darjeeling is located the local
um local labor laws is uh i think it's
up to like 125 or maybe 175
a day rupees uh which is like two
dollars a day
you know or maybe a little over two
dollars a day so as long as the farm is
that and then paying the annual fee
to fairtrade international which in some
cases you know i've asked some farmers
how much it costs
uh and it's like thirty thousand dollars
u.s a year
to to to maintain this certification
so if you really think about it it's
like the the really sustainable farms
that you know you would think would be
um they're family owned and
um high quality uh they don't some
won't even do thirty thousand dollars a
year in revenue
which is fine right right like i've said
this so many times before it's not about
you know it's not that they need to make
more money it's just um
they're they're not even that
certification is not even
accessible to them you know so
uh it's false it's bs and really we
shouldn't be believing it but
yet it has so much value and pool
uh you know not just here in our
conscious communities like
in north america but all over the world
i think this is the very reason why why
call us stop being sustainable
because i think we've come to a point
that the conceptualization
gets so bad that we stop
thinking and investigating and asking
just because this this little triangle
gives us so much
uh i don't know we we've really given it
so much trust
and nobody really comes to question that
and and which is why i think we come to
a point that is
a bit too far um to overly
trusting a word or a organization
and i think you know i think we
the the point of saying stop being
sustainable is
is to actually understand what it means
not just to people who who certified
under sustainable whatever the label is
but also what that means to the people
don't do that and i i as a
tea business owner i invented my own
words which is beyond
beyond organic which means we cannot
afford to do the organic
certification but the land is so ancient
it existed before the situation which is
very very very very young
so to not not to say um
you know like this is how we do it but
it's just really to put a question to
and in my in my experience
of dealing with uh people
in in big fancy hotels when i throw
these questions to them
they really make them think it really
make them think okay
there's such a thing exist it's as if
before that they've never
thought things like that which really
also to me is a good learning curve it's
sort of
you know you need to really as a as a
farmer as a maker as
a tea business who supports those people
you need to be really
courageous and stand for your own truth
and to say no this actually another it
could be another story another angle to
approach this
so i think that's quite important
yeah yeah i like that beyond organic
yeah yeah i can't even do do a little
thing and i'm just sticking on our net
our our packaging i think that that
would do it
yeah that's a great way to do it uh
beyond sustainable
organic um yeah i think the
danger is we must we must not become
really trapped
by it is this sustainable is this
or is this free of chemicals whatever
that means
whatever that says to you you know
we don't get so tricked by the concept
any type of concept even just in terms
of drinking tea you know
read less label but drink the tea ask
the right questions and see how you feel
you know this this sort of thing that we
we covered quite a lot in different
kind of sharing experiences but i think
but i think we must be
very aware the consciousness in our in
our head we must be always be aware and
very alert
when we see this sort of thing and make
our own judgement
and perhaps approach things in a
different way and i think
it would only happen when we all come
together to china
which leads to my next question you know
i sort of felt like the
the overarching game is there yeah
um for the for the big players they set
up their own
roles and and but then now for example
for the for the for the makers and
um pickers and people who you work with
on the t-led um how do you create
your own ecosystem um for
the supply chain or for the connection
to be closer for it to be more
how have you approached that in your own
just information purely information so
when i'm traveling
and meeting people in business or
meeting farmers
they always ask me oh do you require
organic certification do you require
fair trade certification they assume
as like this like hippie woke buyer
coming around that's what i'm looking
for i say no
i'm not requiring any of that i'm not
even requiring that you don't use
chemicals what i require
is that you tell us and so uh before we
work with any of the producers it's
usually about
a six month vetting process it's a lot
of time
and ideally it involves me physically
going to those places
and um just a simple step on their soil
will tell you everything you know what i
mean there's a lot to be told
and and how the soil smells and feels
and you can't really communicate that
through a computer but
um you know we have a 30 question survey
that a farmer has to produce and that's
all public
so this is not just private information
that we hold for ourselves to make our
own vetting
decisions like this is information that
we share with the t
business buyers and also with the
and that list of questions i make
um online too for the consumer to to
know even beyond tea
that they can use these questions with
all the products that they consume
now are you gonna get an answer to every
one of those questions for every product
that you consume absolutely not
but if you you know start with this work
you know there will be products and
it'll like motivate you to spend more
time shopping at farmers markets
or getting to know your local
agriculture ecosystems
and then when it comes to your
international commodity products like
chocolate or tea
or coffee you can use this as a baseline
you know to hold the merchants or the
vendors that you work
with accountable for acquiring this
and so when it comes to the the whole
agriculture practice question we kind of
categorize it as
a conventional natural
we just call it natural you know natural
is like one of the most unregulated
in the u.s food system so we're just
going to use it
and then organic and when we say organic
that's certified and we do have a small
handful of farmers that have
invested that time and money into being
certified organic just because of the
pressure from the market
and really what i've noticed in um you
know because we have the data
of how t sells uh and what i've noticed
is that if a product is certified
organic it doesn't necessarily sell more
or have a greater value in the market
than if it's not certified organic
but being natural does have a lot of
value and that shift has been
um you know a big difference from when i
first started so when i first started
the whole organic certification was a
very big hot point
for the business buyers and these were
mostly like established business buyers
like maybe they had been
building a t brand for 10 10 years um
so they you know already had an
established brand and established
uh but they had like pigeon holes
themselves into
being organic i mean some of them went
as far as to put organic into the title
of their brand
uh because that word used to have so
much pool but it's good it's good news
that that word has less pool now
that like and it first started from the
business buyers
they're like maybe they were in it for
five years and realized man this is
absolute bullshit like
what am i doing trying to chase this
thing and it's just like everything is
working against me
um you know pricing is higher your
availability and supply chain is more
limited um
and so you know that that is changing
that um uh but there is a significant
difference between the convent the sales
of conventional tea and natural tea
there is a difference in in those two
categories so
yeah it does mean that the business
buyers are mindful of that
um wanting to share products with their
customers that
aren't using chemicals um
and you know there's there's a whole
line of different
attributes that different businesses are
attracted to
some businesses are attracted to female
tea makers
which is wonderful you know and they
want to tell that story
um you know to their customers some are
to communities that uh have prevalence
of uh human trafficking
and so they want to tell that story
about how you know this tea
is um you know persevering
outside of the the challenges that
you know exist in those communities um
so you know i think that the the buyer
is definitely becoming more
educated especially new businesses you
know someone starting a new tea business
from scratch it's almost like
guaranteed they're going to want to make
the the best choices in their supply
from day one it's the businesses that
are like more established
that are big and that have a lot to lose
if things aren't fitting in in the boxes
like how they need them to be you know
we don't need to name any brands or any
names we all know who they are
and um what really gets under my skin is
when they start co-opting
these terms and making you feel good
and then telling you an inauthentic
story um
you know an inauthentic story uh
there's like so many that that that you
and i have to share with each other
just even like an instagram post you
think it's so
you know so simple and harmless but it's
you can absolutely tell that that's fake
you know like one of the main ones that
i see a lot
in uh in tea marketing is a matcha right
so matcha is like
a huge trend right now everybody's
wanting to get into the business
um and uh
you know there's like these young
entrepreneurs maybe they travel to japan
they discover matcha they
they meet a matcha supplier and they
decide okay i'm gonna make a matcha
and they you know for instagram matcha
is wonderful you know take all these
beautiful pictures build a big following
and then you see a picture of the ceo
standing in a t
field saying oh here we are in our
matcha fields visiting the field
and it's like no trade structure around
the field you can
tell that it's obviously just a standard
sencha field um and so and how that
happened was not their fault
it was it was a case of ignorance right
it's it's not that ceo's fault
it's the fault of that supplier they're
working with so matcha is a very siloed
business it's a very siloed industry
it's very hard to find farm direct
matcha you have to work very very hard
and um yeah develop those relationships
yourself and in some cases develop the
factory yourself
for grant for blending and grinding the
matcha because the matcha industry in
is all about that final brand the the
refiner as we we call them
that that step in the value chain where
they will collect tenchas from all over
the country
blend them to create the product profile
you're looking for
grind it and then that goes to market
and so when these business owners come
to that factory and they say hey
you know like direct trade is really
important so you know i'm saying this is
direct trade can you take me to the tea
farm they say oh yeah i'll take you to a
farm they just
you know drive them up to the mountain
somewhere and just say okay photo shoot
do it
you know that happens all the time and
you know like uh
an uneducated consumer will just accept
that and just say oh wow and they get
educated by that
and that's false education um you know
and so that was like back to my point
about the responsibility and being a
marketer and
we're actually educators we're actually
some of the most powerful teachers
uh even more than in our schools you
know because people listen to the
commercials they listen to their
products they
um yeah it's just it's what we've gotten
um and it doesn't just happen in matcha
you know i think you have pointed out a
photo that you found online of
some pluckers like using a plastic bag
harvest their leaf um yeah so
this is very interesting because i i
think in in the
way i grew up in the you know where the
tea house is it's all about
you know going back going back going
back to the roots to the
point that you can't go back anymore so
you really question where things come
not just t but information predominantly
where did you get this information yeah
right now in this trend we particularly
talking about culture appropriation here
is is there's there's there's people
take a little leave
from the big tree and then to say this
this is a big tree
and um one of my i think i think the
story of
of the tea leaves is there's a
this is a very influential tea figure
from the instagram account i saw
a photo it was posted
about grejo's tea farms and
there's a woman picking the tea leaves
in spring
and the woman the local gradual lady was
picking the leaf and putting it into a
bag so because i grew up in grejo
and i also work in the mountains two
questions i have is why this lady who
seems to be
you know picking tea leaves all her life
why would she be so
um uh blind to pick a plastic bag and to
put her tea
leaves in you know because
particularly in springtime you would
pick one band or one by two leaves so
you can go and sell it to the makers and
make good money
but if you put it in a plastic bag it
means within 20 minutes
30 minutes the band will become yellow
or brown so this obviously
isn't what the the instant instagram
post was saying and also it also says
how much depth this person and effort
this person have put into in putting
out this post and telling people about
as as this as this influence yeah
i'm sick and tired of that you know what
what probably happened ray they uh that
influencer was probably in their
their you know their four-wheel drive
vehicle dragging around and
noticed this you know picturesque woman
with the child
and said hey can i take your photo
picking tea and all they had was the
plastic guy
absolutely and to me you know it's not
you know the west then sees this story
it take all the
virtual boxes there's a tea plantation
and there's a very poor woman
with a child in her back and peeking
it triggers some emotional boxes yeah
yeah i understand how it works but i'm
more concerned with my own people
because when the child grow up let's say
they make a documentary about that
this this very child will grow up seeing
how the west has been projected their
own world
and thinking that this is their world
they're going to be poor
they're going to be the least advantaged
and they're going to be seen this way
and hence this is where they see
themselves this has been
happening all over africa with slavery
later on like today and everything and
and now it's happening
in china in everywhere you know in in
india it's been happening for so many
and and you know it's about i think when
we talk about sustainability is really
empowering the the very people who have
the connection
and make us this product give us this
offering it's really about we need to
think about how we can empower them
and tell their stories in their own way
so they can then educate their own
children or
you know the younger generation can grow
up and see
this is who we are and we're very proud
of that
and we're not going to make all these
changes because
this big brandon comes and tells us so
it's because we
we live by this and i think i think
that's very very important
because you know talking about cultural
appropriation i think there's just
gonna there's just so many layers
of damage so many layers
from geographically generationally
mentally spiritually physically and now
we can talk about the physical damage of
culture appropriation
yeah and you shared about the
and i'll share about the poor story or
maybe the
the mushroom story yeah the mushroom tea
what's it
in chinese we said lindsey linz means
chili means branch it's a sacred branch
and it has a reason for that is in the
old days even
you know when somebody is about to die
and they tried
everything and they couldn't figure out
any other way to
revive this person's life they
would use this particular mushroom to
make soup
for this person to see okay last resort
and see where the hiroshima would come
so it's not something you grind into
powder and then dissolve into water and
drink it every day
that's the first thing
and second is very sacred and
it grows wild in the forest and and
mushrooms such as spirit of the lands
they need a certain ecosystem
they need this and they they need what
they need to to grow
and if you found them they're not gonna
do you good
it's it's you know it's as simple as
and people take in this idea
the chinese people make mushroom tea we
just to say it i'm just gonna say we
don't make mushrooms tea
we make mushroom soup yeah and
we only drink it at the end of april and
the end of august
that's it nobody does anything more and
if you if you come across the thing to
say you know that's going to be good for
your drink grinding mushroom tea
a is going to taste horrible and b is
not going to be
good for you yeah and i think you have
when i think that these stories are
powerful because
it's it brings it home for us you know
sometimes you know that poor woman and
and her baby's future
in gweijo and a picture on influencer uh
it's very easy for us to be disconnected
from that story
so you know if i don't think that people
should be feeling
guilty that they're not connecting with
that story we're selfish beings that's
um and so telling that story of how
colonization and appropriation can
do physical damage to us as individuals
is a very powerful story and so
you know brands that are popularizing
mushroom tea
are actually doing a lot of damage you
know in the world
as well as like a lot of ayurvedic herbs
like golden milk is a really great
example of that it is being marketed
as this casual trendy daily drinker you
go to india and you ask an indian person
about golden milk they say yeah
just like the mushroom soup they're like
yeah my mom makes that when i'm sick
and it you know it's a very sacred
powerful medicine
when i went to go source turmeric in
the farmers were all giving me like the
medicinal you know because when i go i'm
like give me the highest quality product
you have because that's what i want to
introduce into the market i want to make
sure that we get the best value for you
and so they say yeah this is the more
medicinal one you know and then
the buyers say hey we can't use
medicinal grade
turmeric because our customers are
drinking this every day
we are dosing them and so we have to be
responsible and there are a lot of
brands that aren't responsible and the
poo air market is
one of those it is so big you know
actually i
we were talking the other day about this
and i remembered silvan came up with a
for this like community of people uh he
called them crusaders
these are the crusaders i like that
these are the folks that are just
chasing the high
and there are brands that are marketed
and geared specifically to these
i'm not going to list names but you guys
all know them uh they're hipster
they're masculine they're egotistical
punk rock cutting edge let's get high
let's get
messed up on tv um and you know
to each their own that's fine if you do
this responsibly there are folks like
jeffrey mcintyre
uh or i'm sorry jeffrey mcintosh
uh who has a lot of experience with
puerite um
he has a very different idea about it
now that like
poor is a very strong medicine and we
have to be very cautious about how
we take it and enjoy it and just because
these folks boil the heck out of it and
drink it like this doesn't mean that we
need to do that like our cultures and
our bodies are different
um but there are some people that like
when they go
source and neutron they'll tell the
farmers i'm looking for the most unique
high energy thing and they'll get it and
you know like that can be very dangerous
i've seen some products on the market
that i just think wow this is like
putting a lot of harm you know and then
it's also
encouraging something else uh that i
wanted to make sure that we both got to
touch on in this conversation
which is kind of the source of all these
which is like unbalanced ego um
and i use the word unbows a lot of
people just say ego
it's like ego is getting in the way and
making problems and it's like ego is not
we all have ego but it's unbalanced ego
that's bad it's an
unchecked ego um and and tends to be
the um the difference between masculine
and feminine
and this doesn't mean man and woman um
men can empower feminine energy and
women can empower masculine energy but
uh the the kind of definitions of the
differences between masculine and
feminine energy
they work in harmony with each other
overpowering one or the other
will cause problems you know toxic
masculinity will cause problems as well
as like rampant femininity taking over
can also cause problems too you know
because they're different
energies they're different uh paradigms
when it comes to ego and masculinity
it's a very
selfish um and and very like pragmatic
without looking at the long
term and not looking at the full
ecosystem on things
um and so you know the conversation
around sexism and gender balance
uh is is a worthy conversation to be in
this forum
about how to keep these things in check
especially the toxic masculinity
which you know completely disempowers
women from being in positions of
i mean this position of leadership that
we have raised very unique
this is not very common um and so with
that privilege you know we should also
you know do the work to help uplift
the rest of the feminine energy to bring
that balance of mindfulness of the
of how our actions now affect actions
later on
well the masculine energy is great it's
aggressive it's pragmatic
it's like take care of it now serve
ourselves now
which we need that but we also need that
balance too
i think it's it's it's like um i learned
this from kung fu
is the most powerful force comes from
the soft
the s of softest spot of from your heart
which is
when you see fear from a different angle
then it becomes the most powerful thing
so i think
you know ego to me my understanding is
you know
the negative side of it comes from fear
and the fear that we are not you know
why do we drink let's say why do we
drink so much
poor or green tea is because let's say
i'm worried about aging or the
you know house magazine says in order
for me to
look fantastic in my yogi pants i have
to drink this and it's very slimming for
uh whatever that is so i think
um capitalism sees that as opportunity
and keep on injecting fear in us
so i think in terms of consumer in terms
people like us running a business and in
terms of everybody else involved in
i think we this is the thing i feel like
there's actually the work
to do in terms of looking at your fear
why you choose to buy a product before
you actually
put your car down and made the purchase
do you really need it
and i think that's that's one aspect
which is very important to me
is also like how do you choose
how do you choose a tea how to approach
a choice of tea
of of just your day to day why do you
choose a poor and why do you keep on
choosing poor over and over and over
is it because your your tongue
is you're enslaved by your tongue or by
that feeling
or is it really because you you know
your body can take so much poor
and you just genetically so skinny yeah
so i think there's a there's a there's a
really deeper question we need to ask
that in terms of
how do we turn fear into our power
because once you recognize that and i
acknowledge that
it becomes a really you know the the
feminine source
can be the most formidable source and
sorry force so when you actually hit it
you can heat
very long and very loud and very very
so i think as i don't really see
um you know in in china
um we we don't have so much
talk or conceptualization in workspace
about she's a woman so this is the same
thing she needs to do or he's a man he's
these the things that they do
it's more like because i guess it's part
of overpopulation
is so competitive whoever does the job
comes and do the job so you know i was
once up by a magazine interview what
does white shirt mean to me
and later on when i checked the contacts
i realized
me the only the only person who comes
from non-white background
have a very very different understanding
of what white shirt
means because he is all about
it's all about having the equal right
but you know like you said it's about a
it's not about something over something
it's about these things
keep being kept in a balance in society
in economic
terms in in social terms all kinds of
so i think to me like the white shirt
just basically only symbolize purity
and transparency and that's what it
means to me so i think to me
in terms of you know feminine or
masculine i think from from my
approach it's it's slightly different
and i i really think
again we we sometimes jump into
so much concept about this is a dude
saying this
this is a women's thing and and gets so
trapped by it and
women um you know talking about equality
and men talking about the opposite of it
or whatever is in discussion
i think we get we we wasted so much
energy on
arguing over each other for our
righteous views
but actually we can just be i am just
i am a person who shares tea who happens
to come from great joy
and it happens to be a female it's not a
it's not an underprivileged it's just
how it is
and this is how i do it and that's just
it and i think but i know this this is
going to be challenging particularly if
we go into the world let's say the
hipster coffee world
yeah i'm just gonna say that you know
how how
masculine that has come across to me
as as a as a female as a chinese female
what i actually experienced for me is
very different
to somebody who who looks different
to me and who speaks different to me you
so i think that that is also to me it's
slamming on my on my face always
whenever that happens but i think in
here i really
i i just i really believe in balance i
i don't believe in the absolute
50 50
yeah i don't know i've never met a
female tea boss in china
i've met a lot of females in the tea
industry in china and usually
they're gracefully serving tea dressed
very beautifully very slim very graceful
uh i will say i met one female tea boss
she was awesome but she was actually um
from hong kong
so um maybe a little bit different
culture but
i don't think any culture in the world
there's not a single one i mean maybe
there's ones that are different but i
don't think any culture in the world is
immune from this issue
and um i i used to have the very same
attitude i'm a newfound feminist
so um this is all like kind of new for
me like i used to have the attitude of
i'm not man i'm not woman i'm just am
and i'm going to do my thing and i'm
going to be powerful
and so it made me blind to
these issues um because i just powered
through them
um but then you know once uh it was
actually one of my investors one of the
silicon valley investors that got called
out in the metoo movement is actually
a good friend of mine and one of our
investors and i
kind of saw that behavior and as his
never held him accountable not to say oh
you shouldn't be
you know flirting with girls it's just
like if you're gonna flirt with girls
understand your power dynamic between
them you're the money man and these are
ceos trying to get their companies
funded of course they're going to
consent to whatever
you know um so yeah that's that's just a
little plug on my
my newfound feminism so i think it's
really important just like with the
whole conversation when people say
um you know all lives matter is actually
a very racist statement it's the same
um by not addressing that there's a
problem and a widespread problem
and and that we we are victims of it you
know we don't have to behave like
but just addressing that being female
alone just that quality alone is enough
to uh face oppression
face handicaps and challenges is the
first step
and you're right specialty coffee is
like the
main perfect perpetrator of that
you know as like a female like most of
my clients
are female owned businesses so they're
small scale tea houses tea shops tea
all over the world and specialty coffee
fourth wave coffee shops is a great
channel to get
this great tea into um because these
care about origin they care about you
know the technicals they want to learn
um but you know a lot of my clients
can't even get to their pitch
you know they walk into the coffee shop
the barista even if it is a female
is a very masculine female barista and
will um like immediately doubt their
authority or their knowledge but then
you know a bro t salesperson comes in
and they're immediately hey bro what's
up how's it going what tv got for us
it's a very different uh response that
you get
um and uh you know that the the place
for the woman
is either you know plucking the leaf
so gracefully or brewing the tea so
gracefully but
you know not being a major
you know boss like it's just it's it's
it it doesn't fit into that
paradigm um and so uh we got to hold
ourselves accountable
not only for not behaving that way
ourselves personally but holding our
friends accountable for that too
so um yeah that's it's a very toxic
thing that is actually inhibiting
progress and inhibiting
the truth to prevail not to say that
women are needed for that to happen but
this that balance is important and you
know that whole crusaders thing i've
never met a female crusader
they're all men so
you know i just i just wanted to add one
thing about it because i
i used to work in the fashion industry
when i was very young
in the early 2000s and late
90s i used to be a fashion model
and and that and being a female
being under age being in a man's world
i have experienced so many different you
different layers of what that means
being a vulnerable woman in the male's
some of them are really not pretty
something very traumatic
but some of them it would take it took
me years to
realize a certain things so i just
wanted to share here is what i
learned is really on your experience
they're not bad or they're not good
they're just your experience that's
how life happened to you and i think
is is not to let anyone to come and
dismiss your experience whether that's
conceptually being a woman or women
entrepreneur or
whatever that is but i think it's if i
if i stand in the post office there's a
white man which happened a few days ago
there's a white man looking at me like i
am the virus in the whole shop
and looks like he's gonna come and kill
me you know
i when the police ask me i'm gonna tell
him and he's
gonna tell me no that is not what
happened he just look at you
but i'm just gonna say no you don't know
because you don't experience what i
experienced how can you dismiss that
from my point of view
so i think that is it's not because
it's not it's not about what you
actually have to say
the police or to other people really
about how you feel when you own those
experiences and feelings and knowing is
no one can deny that
and i think as a woman or as a as an
or as a chinese or as whatever you are
know yourself
and really stand by it and know your
roots and
not thinking you know i think it's about
this is a question about self self-worth
nation and i think within that then
it doesn't matter how the society labels
you to whether you're in a
least advantaged places or more
advantaged place
then you can still navigate you can
still have your freedom and your power
your ability to do what you set out to
and to believe what you believe in so i
as one man or as people who are
perhaps in the less um
privileged uh environment i think is
very very important
um but it does it it does take time it
takes work
it takes ownership yeah
yeah it's a lot of work it's deep work
and it's not just trusting
a label and trusting this person selling
you this thing oh feel good you bought
this thing you've done good work it's
it's very deep and it's sometimes it's
it's not even
involving the products that we're
consuming it's involving our own actions
and our own cultures and values
that will then indirectly trickle into
the products that we consume
but um yeah and it feels like we went a
little off topic but we absolutely did
you know i think that this is very
um you know to talk about the the gender
balance um but you know you had uh
commented on something earlier about
uh when we allow that marketing that
inauthentic marketing story
to um convince somebody who they are
so like that baby that's going to grow
in guizhou is going to see that post and
and and think oh i am poor i am
disadvantaged i don't have as much as
someone else so you know i'm not
as good um that's a really important
point here
and it works both on
the you know poor person side on all
these poor people we're trying to help
but it also works on our side too
that if we can live in more
simplicity and more satisfaction in that
um then things will be more peaceful and
more happy
you know so like that's why i always say
it's not about money it's about dignity
it's about autonomy and dignity
like just giving more money to somebody
is actually gonna like do more damage
than it's gonna do good um and then it's
gonna further
uh encourage that um
insecurity that we're not good enough um
and then on the consumer side so like
the marketers had has have convinced us
a mass market they've convinced us that
our identity and our worth
is measured by how much we consume and
that's wrong too
you know like our happiness and worth is
dependent on
our our values and and
and success and like satisfaction in
what we have
um and what we need uh which is you know
food shelter you know family community
which is very simple things
you don't need money for that stuff but
we've been so convinced
both sides have been so convinced that
we aren't good enough that we need more
um that we completely like lose
touch and lose any opportunity of
achieving happiness because we're
constantly pursuing that thing
so um you know when it comes to like
actionable things right so
the main action the title of this
podcast or the title of this talk is
stop being sustainable
so we need to offer some action um and
perhaps a and you say this and
both other conversations that we've had
you said drink less tea and that's all
this that's that's this it's like
finding satisfaction and less um and if
we can do that
even in baby steps like it can make
worlds of difference
uh in the long run
i think so i think if we're talking
about simplicity
we have to what to me when you talk
about simplicity
the image that comes to my mind is is is
is a forest it's so simple everything
everything does its own thing it's very
and there's no noise there's just birds
and just trees and
flowers and everything so i think
is is really to cut back to
the essentials strip back everything
concepts doing actions
um i don't know analyzing
data information um
and even i was talking here you know i'm
sure if we were going to the forest
nobody would talk it would just be
so i think when that applies to
in terms of consuming or
um or the opposite of consuming you know
like supplying the consumption
i think it's it's also like stripping
down to the very basics
and and and you know the supply chain
being very basic
i i we're not gonna be we're not gonna
tell the story that doesn't tell who we
we're just gonna keep it simple this
this is where we live and
this is where the trees are and this is
what we do
and and the middle man being simple
keeping it simple just as
that and also the consumers you know
things as with a simplistic approach
right so i think is is is like you said
you know is is to do with how much more
do i need
or how much less i can actually just
live happily
and and and i think it's with that
approach to navigate in terms of your
choices but also i think in general
if we can simplify um
how things work which i think is the
beauty of
of having smaller businesses like all
the smes or
you know there's such a simplicity in
beauty in
in being small because we don't have to
go through
all these lengthy processes of getting a
doing all of this and everything takes
14 months to to get it
and uh and then the layers of
information gets lost and then the end
of it the consumer gets nothing everyone
is comes uh is confused within the whole
yeah and then the the farmer's message
never gets
delivered so i think we i guess we're
we have a responsibility to to
emphasize the importance of simplicity
and even just even appreciating tea
what what is your simple approach to
and also like you know what what does
that mean to you
in terms of your day-to-day life and you
and all the choices you make is
absolutely essential
the world has gotten too complicated
anyone who manages to simply simplify
wins and there's no fighting about it
it's just
you know i think it's is absolutely
essential keeping it simple keep it
the only issue i'm thinking now with
this from a marketing perspective
is that the concept of simplicity is not
so sexy
you know uh maybe post pandemic
it might be it's become you've stopped
it's becoming hipster
yeah so we got to make it sexy uh in
some way either
the word simplicity itself will become
hipster and sexy in itself but you
brought up a good point about the forest
because when i think of the forest yes i
think of simplicity and i think of peace
and quiet
but i also think about infinite
right all of these different p there's
so many million kajillion
living things just like in harmony with
each other creating that simplicity
so you know i and that's kind of sexy
right so
maybe i'll be thinking about this about
what is a way to popularize this concept
the finding satisfaction and simplicity
um and in the flow uh can be very
and will work everything else out
but that's that's it there was a
that came in ray maybe we can address it
and it's more
um practical question which is good
because i think we've been talking very
high level
this whole time so um samson
asks so there's a question that no one
really wants to talk about
but when being ethical where do you draw
the line between your own
profits margins versus paying farmers
fair prices on their products the true
cost of high quality tea per gram
is significantly lower than the pricing
you see on most vendors
sites i know of very few western vendors
that will reinvest into the farm's
infrastructure using their margins to
help with sustainability
good question do you want to go with us
um yeah i guess so um so
basically it's it's not going to work
that way
like a reinvestment into infrastructure
any kind of business model like a
successful strong business model won't
work it doesn't work that way
like um the the business model itself
has to be rooted in that ambition
to create sustainability or create
stop the word sustainability it's not a
good word to um
you know create the opportunity for
progress it's a better word
um and so you know it's a whole business
mentality that has to change
and large business it's like impossible
for them to change
uh it's impossible i shouldn't say
impossible but it's very very hard and
not likely that they would want to
it's the small and medium-sized
businesses that will be
adaptive and agile to make those changes
in the foundation of their business
not to be a charity and so you know that
has proven to not
work and i encourage anybody in business
to shy away from this concept of
uh 10 of our profits goes towards this
non-profit that plants trees in the
forest or
and that's exactly what fair trade is
too so fair trade
charges a um a 10 premium
so like when you have that fair trade
certification you automatically your
products are automatically 10
higher in price of the market and so
the the concept is is that premium half
of it actually half of that premium goes
right back to the fair trade
organization and then the other half
goes back to the farms and then the
farms are kind of told
how to use that money to um develop the
infrastructure and social
infrastructures so like hospitals or
or electricity but then there's no
about the sustainability of those
infrastructures themselves
because this was just like a charity
handout you know there was not like
i don't know that's why i'm a really big
fan and just a little background on me
like i come
from a charity background i was a peace
corps volunteer so i used to do
international development work
in africa and um
i was really jaded on that because that
felt very unsustainable
it's like all of this money getting
pumped in and maybe only like
two percent of that money is actually
affecting any kind of
progress uh that's not the exact stat
but that's just what i felt
like a very small portion of of what was
actually being invested into this and
value put into this
and trust put into this non-profit
system that's like
empowering progress is actually doing
versus business you know business when
you have some type of like profit drive
built into it
um there's it's going to be motivated to
and if that if that profit
function is rooted in
the principles of progress the same that
the nonprofit would have
um then that's just going to like
create progress versus you know the the
charity model
so i know samson i didn't answer your
uh exactly but um yeah i just think that
the current
consumerism corporate business model
uh is not going to adapt this it's just
impossible and you know if starbucks
starts saying that they're donating 50
of their profits to helping the world i
would still call bullshit on it
um so uh you know like just building
strong business models
supporting small businesses um
you know they're going to be the most
agile and able to uh to create this
i watch for that i think when i when i
gross people truly before
the business was was registered as
company i was confronted with
questions like are you a social
or are you a limited company are you
design are you that
yeah so again i can't stress
this enough is what a which concept are
you going with
which one you surrender to so and
of course with the social mental
surprise i have to serve the immediate
community i have to tickle the boxes i
have to be british i have to be this and
i don't get to do that and and with the
limited so it's measuring against that
and and and i realized
it doesn't matter what his company is
also what how do you define the ethical
how do you define whether or not your
your business is ethical or not is up to
you and this
is the very reason why you start your
business anyway
you have you have no one to answer to
but yourself
so i think i'm only talking i'm also
might not be
helpful in answering something's
question but
i can only speak for myself which is i
do what i think is right and and
that thinking of what is right is always
always always changing because time is
your mission changes your actions
if everybody's a different compass
of my being ethical i might can i answer
to my own people
to my home can i answer to all of you
and this is just a question i have to
ask and whatever activities come my way
i'm just it's just about the decision
you make
and again it's about a balance but
because we're
you know because we are not
multi-million pounds
businesses i can't say i'm staying true
to myself
but once you get to certain beyond
certain capacity
and size you no longer answer to
you answer to many people so how do you
keep a balance
with that that is your core how big you
want your business to be
how many people's and what are the other
people you want to answer to
so i think if you're thinking about
starting business i think that
that is the only ethical question you
you gotta ask yourself
because it's it's really it is about
yourself but again
don't get too trapped with the ethical
business it also
it's just it's like sustainable again
you know all those terms are
i mean i guess yeah the moral of both of
our stories is
uh don't trust the big guys
no i agree
uh virginia had said that reconnection
is a possible word that is somewhat sexy
other than simplicity reconnection
reconnecting with the roots
reconnecting with the origin i don't
know yeah we'll have to throw that
around but
finding some term and you know a lot of
times these terms
like direct trade the story of the term
direct trade
how that term became a part of the
was not from any government was not from
trade association it was literally three
coffee companies
the ceos got together they were all
competitors but they all got together
and they said hey we are all
you know single origin uh third wave
coffee companies we need to come up with
a word that differentiates what we're
and so they came up with that that term
direct trade and they individually just
started using the term their strategy
was like if we just
put this term into our marketing put it
out there put it out there put it out
there and you know a couple years later
it's it's a legitimate you know word in
the dictionary or i don't know if it's
in the dictionary but it's an understood
word by the consumer
um now that word has been so co-opted
that those original founders of the term
have abandoned it like uh they all
agreed at the same time that they were
gonna like
take that word off of all of their
marketing take it off all of their
um because it's lost its value um
so i don't mean to be pessimistic that
whatever we come up with now would
go through the same path but um that's
how things work you know so if we
come up with ideas it doesn't mean that
like we need starbucks
to make it popular like we can do it
ourselves there's a lot of power
uh within our own networks you know
we're hundreds if not thousands
strong uh of like-minded individuals
that all want to see you know we want to
see good tea in the future and really to
be honest if we don't start acting
um there won't be good tea in the future
that is a very real
real not threat that is a real real
future um and so whatever we can do
to preserve the culture and the craft
of good tea we need to do it right
yeah we need to do it and and i think in
of like the revenge of a word as in
to for people to resonate with it i get
it but
it's like the word sustainable like when
it gets
abused then we need to we need to jump
out of it we need to detach it and find
another word that
hasn't been abused and then going with
it i like that you know
i think it's it's constantly knowing
what is there
as a word is not the destination it's
helping us to understand and work under
common goal
it serves only that purpose don't get
too trapped
in it and and you know i like the word
i really like that i'm also very i think
the word empowerment has been abused
um you know there's a lot of words being
abused so um
i'm not going to talk about that but i
think dignified is a
good good start but at least even i
don't use that word i think
it's it has always been the dignity
the dignity and and also i guess to me
is integrity
diversity and you know
um the the the leaf contains the stories
of the people and and i think that is so
something so
much worth for us to celebrate
um and it has so much beauty to it and
and i think
what the world will come i think
we just keep on doing doing what we're
doing yeah yeah you know
what will come sure but once we figure
out what word we want ray we've got to
go make a tick-tock dance
around it because that's the only way
we'll break it in
does anyone have any other questions
i see mafelda reaching she reaching for
her unmute my uh
because then it's not coming 20 minutes
oh no oh i am you did you that's why let
me let me
ask to unmute you
there she is
i just wanted to um ask
if both of you and
you know talking through what that means
for your business
and what you want to convey to to
your your consumers it's
i really identified where you said you
know drink less tea
with drink better quality tea
you know like stop drinking low quality
and demanding it
to be every single day and instead give
it the dignity
give it the integrity that it that it
by using it as a
top product by by seeing the value in it
and i don't think that people see the
value in tea
anymore and that's one of the big
of the industry today we were so focused
on making it
accessible and making it a widespread
that along the line it just became
an a nothing product for a lot of people
so to to bring value back to t and to
make people understand if you love
something it doesn't mean that you have
to have a lot of it it just means
it just means that you have to give it
and also
buy quality do you guys
uh portray that to your customers or are
thinking about doing so now after
yeah i sell t by the 15 grams
and i charge at least a dollar a gram
you know and i feel like and when i
first started doing that
it was like a complete shock you know my
peers in the industry were like at least
you're not going to sell tea and i was
like that's fine i don't need to sell it
i just want to set this bar
you know and so you know when a new tea
liver comes in
that has no reference point of how much
tea should cost or
how much loose leaf good tea should cost
and they just accept that
it's a great learning point for them
because then they take that 15 grams
home and they really cherish it
versus for the same 15
if you went to whole foods you could get
you know a big
box of tea bags um
yeah and that's what doesn't have value
you take that home and it's like oh
that's just a big box of tea bags
versus like you know someone comes here
they have a really nice experience at my
tea table
and they take this tin home and it's
like yeah this is like really valuable
um that's the way that we can do it
but it's painful to do that because
maybe you won't be as competitive as a
and you won't sell as much um but that's
the power and having strong principles
and strong values and just
holding strong to that and kind of
setting that bar
for your your customers versus just
you know trying to play in the in the
current system
when i when i i still get people saying
that your t is more expensive than drugs
what's going on
especially especially in brixton without
little white back they wonder what's in
there it's so expensive
but i think in order to to say
you know when i first did market
research for
how much how much i should sell it for
there's no benchmark for me to look at
not just
within the tea industry but in coffee
in everything so then i realized okay i
can sell it for however much i want to
just whatever i think it's worth so
then it's about the calculation of okay
how much how much these people making
are getting
and how much i'm selling it for and how
much value are people
getting it with we did a calculation
so each if we selling 20 grams
each one of the servings four grams so
that's three pounds just over three
pounds a serving
but if you can brew it for 20 times
that's less than three p p a serving
so we always do this comparison when
somebody comes and tell
ask me about that you know your t is too
expensive thing
so it in fact it's not so i guess it's
it's it's knowing what your values are
so if you're selling it very expensive
and saying it's unique
how unique is that and yes it has to be
the best quality if
it is if within the
world you're saying you're
so unique and you're good products then
you need to have
the truth to back up so i but i think
in terms of in terms of the market that
means we don't go to different
niche we're not we're not selling
teasing whole foods
for example we're these people who
selling tea
with stories with dignity with integrity
so but the the flip side of that
um i guess in the in the capitalist
is it's gonna take much much much slower
it's a very slow process but
whoever who comes and see with you eye
to eye
see this value treasure appreciate it
the other people gonna stick with you
and they're not going to leave you
because they they value
as you value it so so i think
it's it's about us finding the balance
of okay how am i gonna
pay my rent and pay the business cost
while i decide to go on to the slow way
is the balance so
thinking about if i don't sell or if i
in my case you know the
the t is so badge based you can't we
can't go and sell like a thousand kilos
so quantity isn't the same for us so in
terms of quality
what we can do apart from selling the
tea what else we can do
to sort of help the revenue stream to
more paralleled one rather than just one
and you know in terms of stockings or in
terms of experience in terms of
education so i think to me the new trend
of this
trend of this is is not about the
is about the quality and the depth
we go with each every one
of our customers and we know them
we know what he they really like we know
what they do
you know they're like families just like
in the tea house and this person comes
we know
with this cup of tea i i brew them
not very strong because you know we know
them so i think it's about
having that sort of family vibe or
community vibe i think and i'm really
reconnecting making the the relationship
tighter and i think for me i was saying
to elise the other day
like we we we want it to be global small
we don't want to grow with one business
a hundred employees we want to keep it
and you know for me maximum 12 people in
the team
that's already like max max max but
going to devs with everyone who within
the organization
and and with the customers and everyone
everyone enjoys the journey so i think
i think the value comes from that
there's so many
layers of values you know you create
your company and also with your
and with your products and services that
you provide
yeah so what i tell people that i work
with that are like oh how do i sell the
at such a high price um you know until
the market
is at the point where they understand
that value um
inherently like where they'll see a tin
of tea and say oh that's valuable
that yeah i want to get that um
vendors need to repackage
the value that they give where they're
not just selling the loose leaf maybe
they're selling an entire
experience they're selling education
with it they're selling community with
it they're selling
something they're augmenting the you
know the dried leaves with something
um so that the consumer can rethink the
frame of value of tea
outside of what they have been educated
on which is just
this cheap commodity thing that you like
mindlessly drink in the morning before
you go to work
um you know that's that's the main tip
that i have to give
to the businesses the small business
owners that i work with that are
struggling with this
i have customers who would buy the tea
as treat
they know his treat but they will still
go to tesco's and buy
a green tea bags yeah and that's to me
is fantastic
yeah yeah that's a step in the right
direction yes yeah yeah
it'd be better though if we could have i
mean so like with with the network of
that i work with we work from you know
some of the
teas are super super artisanal and cost
you know three dollars a gram four
dollars a gram
uh wholesale you know to like
you know some of the processors that we
work with in like assam for example
example uh they have like artisanal
small scale
factory but then they're also government
mandated to have
the scale factory um and so
you know we kind of have a range of teas
to work with although
you know if if i'm selling like that
commodity really cheap tea from these
guys i'm not really helping them like
there's not a good margin from them it's
it's not good for them but at least uh
it can fill in that gap uh between
you know that high level connoisseur
small quantity market
to like brands that are trying to be in
whole foods and
all of 2019 i just aggressively pursued
i spent my entire sourcing trip putting
together tons of tea
from nepal india and sri lanka to fill
into a shipping container so that i
you know make the shipping rates
you know with the market price of tea
here and
you know i went to world t expo and had
a booth there we
you know definitely had a very popular
booth there everybody was there even the
big businesses were there and they saw
oh you're doing
commodity tea now and i was like yeah
we're trying you know it's not this is
not necessarily commodity it's still
coming from these single origins but
you know we're trying to fit into the
status quo
and like it all fell through and the few
partners that were serious
ended up buckling to the pressure of the
market and becoming very inconsiderate
and very much against what this whole
movement is about
even though their brands claim to be
ethical and claimed to be you know full
of love
um you know like and those business
are full of love as people personally
yeah they're great people
but it's the pressure from trying to fit
this ethical product
into the big box system that's just
it's not gonna work so i've given up on
that i am um
you know i definitely still want to
pursue my container ship
um idea because that just sounds really
great if we could fill
an entire container ship full of good
good ethical pro not ethical just good
i just like to use the word good um uh
if we could fill it with good products
tons and tons and tons of good products
that are returning good profits
or you know good opportunity to the
producers i'd be very happy but
i've just like yeah i've given up on on
that strategy of trying to
fit what we're doing into the big box
same here same here but it took it
really took
some some time to realize
what what i what grass people tree is
doing is
is not it it doesn't fit in
it doesn't fit in and so you have to
sort of pave your own way
and then find your own people and this
it's sometimes quite frustrating because
when you look at data
none of this data says anything about
what you're doing
and even just when we say oh you sell
yesterday i got i got a message from a
who i trained comfortable with and says
can i buy some of your nettle tea
i'm like what you know metal leaf
can i buy something so one even when
they say
about tea there's tea and there's
there's grass pupil tree and there's you
know it's just
it's it's not it's its own thing and and
i think it's he's coming to
to realize that i made me feel so much
more comfortable now because before it
was this anxiety as
a as a founder you should like okay
where do i fit
yeah but that is one question i think
it's like how can i become comfortable
being me
just being me as in grass people treat
being itself
how do i become comfortable with that
how do i find these people and really
take time to find these people
and again i think it's not letting the
to you
just keep on walking and don't don't get
because if you don't scare yourself
nobody can come around and scare you
i think
um yeah that's very powerful you know i
feel like yeah i'm in the exact same
but i have a very different condition um
and and not really by my choice but it
it is what it is and so i'm dealing with
it and i'm using that as a challenge
my company is venture backed so i have
venture capitalists behind my back
telling me that i need to
i need to turn this into a big business
and um i'm okay with that you know like
if i say it's not my choice because i
didn't pursue that the investors pursued
me it was just
at the time when in 2012 when when
venture capital was super strong
and they were trying to find businesses
you know old analog business industries
and so you know they just gave me money
everybody kept giving me money and it
was like monopoly money
and i didn't know how to spend it i'm
grateful for it because that was
what was able to launch me into
wholesale because when you do wholesale
business you have to have large
quantities you can't
have just a few kilos uh like a retailer
you have to have big quantities because
if a business decides they want to work
with you they're potentially going to
you know 20 kilos just like that so it
has to be in your warehouse ready to go
so yeah that venture capital definitely
helped with that
oh you guys lost you guys lost my
my camera so i'm going to turn my other
camera on
yeah i'm coming i'm coming
but i think it's um uh so
yeah i i'm under this pressure to create
a big business and so that's why
um you know i'm not just trying to
target tea but also trying to target
um other industries as well and and
trying to compete
with that um you know fair trade
established market that's out there
you like like i said the other day these
i think
like myself would say it again and i
really believe in this
is if anyone were to take money from vcs
it's people like you
because you are actually shaking things
up to change the big game
and i really admire your courage and
commitment in doing so
because you know it's it's it's a big
game that
is you know killing the diversity and
blah blah blah as we all know it
um and i think you know money
you know as we as much as we hate it but
money does allow you to do things and to
go to the steps that you need to be and
do the things that you need to do
so you know don't let the ethical thing
gets in the way
i think it's just and and as a business
in the world
you know you gotta i always say to my
team we're gonna make money
and we're gonna have fun these are the
two things in the business
if we're calling that business it has to
so you have to make money in order to
survive and
what you do with the money is is your
you know as a business or as a business
owner but i think
you know we we we have our own ruler i
and um yeah very much
from their duration to you
yeah it's a challenge but it's slow you
know and that's what i've had to tell my
investors so my investors don't like me
you know and i i you know whatever it's
i'm going to make them proud one day you
know but
they don't like me because they don't
like my business model
they don't like the transparency they're
like oh we invested in you because
we thought you had control on your
supply chain can't you just go find
cheaper tea somewhere and sell it at a
big markup and i was like no
like my business model is trying to ask
the question
like why was that t so cheap and who got
fucked to make it that
cheap you know so um
but it's it's fine you know it'll it'll
all work out
um you know now that i'm diversifying
into other crops and trying to bring
these ideologies into
other products which you know indirectly
come back to benefit you know this
conversation around tea
you know for people to to to see
as an act of activism
um it's very powerful you know and i
think that's that's really what
we're trying to do ray i
i can think at least 10 people will sign
up like that immediately
connor connoisseurship as an act uh as
an act of activism
that's good yeah i like that
education takes time and and there's
always gonna be the majority who don't
get it
and refuse to get it because because of
ego because of fear
and i sort of just see that as a
sort of the relative reality now and
that's just
that's just how it is and and people i
like you and t let's like your company
is always gonna have that disagreement
because this is just how the world
how the world is and and i think is
we've we find our way and i think not i
truly believe
is not within my lifetime i could
what i wanted to do and i actually i you
know i have a very
pessimistic point of view on where we
going i i like to remain
optimistic so that's good maybe that's
why we we we make a good team
yeah i i don't know i like to stay
yeah at the core of all of this we are
all people
we all have hearts you know so that's
what i always say like even when we're
talking about like
greedy corporate america it's like you
know the
the system itself may actually be fine
the system of capitalism may be
fine it's the um you know
fears and motivations of the people
within the system that are making that
um how do we touch their hearts
and get their hearts activated to you
know um
aid in those decisions becoming more
you're talking about making buddhism
popular again
let's do it i'm into that
how do we do that respectfully without
appropriating anything
speak the truth always this is what i
feel like people are not going to laugh
when you tell them the truth
but people who have
found sometimes
keep keep telling it keep
doing it and announcing
the right um karma is not a word that is
being abused so i'm not gonna say that
the right
the right consequence the right result
will come and i think we can only just
carry on
you know it is routines
and that's that's me being very positive
um i just wanted to comment that both on
the streams online as well as in the
chat box here in the zoom i
added the link to that list of questions
so that's just a resource that you guys
are welcome to use
um yeah it's just questions basic
questions i mean they're questions that
you could have come up with but um
they're they're the questions that that
that we use at t-let to
like vet the transparency of a producer
and it can transcend across all products
can be used by the consumer as well now
i don't expect you to like hold every
single vendor in the world accountable
for answering every single question but
it's a start
you know and asking those questions to
your vendors will
um will put that business owner on the
path towards finding authenticity
yeah and if thank you for sharing that i
i'm gonna
start using that i had a look the other
day i'm going to start using that
when i go back next time it's something
really really helpful
and i think it's just to start asking
the questions i think that's
that's that's good enough for
you know for for for places that never
ask questions before they've always been
do this i'm gonna give you this x amount
of money
you know for themselves to ask those
questions then
again it's about them getting their own
power back into their own hands which i
i think is is really really important
yeah and and if anyone has wanted us to
share anything um you know
in terms of resources or links or
i mean it is more of a encyclopedia here
and if you want to know anything about
great joe and you know
i'm also i'm happy to be your guide
whenever you come
i'm sure you're around and if you want
to source tea
and listen to the stories of what people
actually say
what they eat what they drink how they
dance and everything on there
so hopefully hopefully you will get
together next year in your rachel there
do you do like uh official
organized tours or do you just like one
off travel with people when they request
um both both um so for example like
uh soham for example took uh virginia
and george
and cablevadas i think there's nine of
them so that was like a very nice little
so i can show them to different areas um
but in the case of
mafalda and brand they just wanted to
so it's like finding the stories of what
they potentially can be sourcing from
so then there's a different focus with
that so i think
you know to me is really just about
sharing the story whatever the format is
you know it really doesn't matter so but
i was thinking
i was planning on this which was to to
a like a tea people's get-together uh
from you know people like us all across
the world
and back to the tea house in guitar
and then the tea people locally the
farmers the pickers the makers the tea
we use the same table
we lost her
let's see if she comes back in at some
point but
um yeah i do i do trips like this as
well ray it's really fun it's really
powerful and impactful i don't do it for
um i exclusively welcome the business
buyers to travel with me because
it's it's hard to operate a tour in some
of the places that we go to that are
really remote
and we have to do home stays and we have
sleep in the factory and work all night
i don't think that's what a tourist is
looking to do they want to stay in a
and have nice accommodations but
you know a tea business owner that
really wants to understand the product
that they're selling
will appreciate that um and have fun
doing that so we have a lot of fun and i
call it the amazing t-race because we go
everywhere it's usually like a two-month
trip uh and i spend about three to four
days in each spot
and you know i'm on like 18 different
airplanes and four different trains and
um cars yeah it's it's good fun it's
really fun but
i had to cancel this springs and
i'm forecasting that i'm going to have
to cancel potentially for the next few
years which i'm fine with
um and and you know that's why investing
more into these types of spaces has been
really important to me and
um doing education and actually now the
education that i'm doing
is more targeted towards tea
professionals because i've
come to learn that a lot of
professionals within the industry which
is very much related to what we've been
talking about right
that like the information that we get as
education either from like the wholesale
or from you know royalty academy or any
of these certification classes
that information is like completely
um controlled by the marketers or
controlled by
certain people that want to censor the
information for you
um you know even if as a tea buyer if
you go to a tea estate in india
and they you know you meet the tea boss
there and then they take you out to see
the tea field and then
i i think even makaibari has like a
homestay program where like they have
you stay in one of the workers
huts or something in the in the housing
that whole experience is all censored
like you're not
you're not given the truth you're given
like this very
clean um version of what they want you
to see
uh how their plantation works and how
their artisanal craft is done
and the same thing in tea education as
well um and so there's a lot of
frustration among the professionals
that there's not a good source i mean
there's definitely not a
like internationally recognized source
education but just a good source of
education as well and all of them are
really expensive and take a lot of time
and you know people end up feeling like
they didn't really learn what they
needed to learn to truly understand t
so um i i just launched a series of
classes that start on september 1st
um that we just focus on one tea at a
it's 45 minutes long i'll do like a 15
to 20 minute presentation on the tea
it's origin it's tea maker and then
um spend the rest of time tasting the
tea and
you know telling like personal anecdotes
and i think that's what people resonate
with is personal anecdotes like
you know i think probably in today's
talk the points that have resonated the
most with the viewers have probably been
our personal stories
uh more so than our opinions more so
than what we read in a textbook
um you know so um yeah what i'm doing
i'm not trying to do a certification
or you know any official t professional
education but i just want to offer
something out there
um and and let the educators see
um you know what good tea education for
professionals in the industry
uh can look like versus what it
currently is which is
pretty broken that's brilliant do let us
know how
how it goes and you know be good for us
to learn also
what you used to sharing and i think
because you've been
all over the place seeing it and
experiencing it and and i think
um unfortunately at some point we as
an educator or people sharing their
you do need to break the romanticized
and tell people this is what really is
and and i think um i have a big problem
with uh with education uh in general
but also particularly in
education in order to get certification
i'm chinese we're all about that we're
all about getting certification
and that's what education is for and
this is why i'm so screwed up
and this is this is me talking about my
own experience
um is is it's about you know you learn
um there's you know textbooks and things
they're also curated
they also censored so what do you
actually learn
and where does the textbook comes from
you know this is this i'm with you
100 because this is precisely why i
started the master's tea house
because it's all about the information
getting the information
straight from the source not even
me not even my teachers
but our ancestors thousands of years ago
and they you know and and there's a
quote saying never trust the teacher but
trust the teachings
who has been transmitted over
and i think there's a lack of pull of
out there even that people who are very
um good root of wisdom we say the little
you know things about to spring from the
and then they go on youtube and they
they heard some
some was to create the the poor people
whatever talk about teeth that's ruined
it's like yeah it's it's like putting
chemicals on these tiny little seeds
and that's done and from my experience
is far way easier to
share the knowledge with somebody and
nothing knows nothing about tea
than people who watched youtube videos
and search everything on wikipedia for
about three years and drank everything
this possibly is
it's always easier so i think education
will really
as me and you with you know the the
generation who has the access
to our experience and who who has the
platform ability to
share this we really need to come from
be very aware of
of of the place where the knowledge
comes from which can be
only placed that is authenticity because
you know that goes back to the cultural
appropriation and everything else
because this is
this is how you know how everything gets
so distorted
me being in london once i was in
a a p professional training place
i was sharing the traditional yellow tea
making method
and in that particular method there was
there was a process called um
oxidation but it's sort of like
fermenting but you oxidize it
lightly so i was corrected
twice correctly by the
final authority figure saying
what ray meant is not that she actually
fermentation yeah so
so the students in presence very
what is she saying and what is ray
saying so
this is what i mean like you know um
we don't the knowledge we provide
doesn't even fit into the current
educational system the way we learn
the way we practice everything is
completely different
so i have to approach it in a different
way and and i think
really revealing the truth just just
get it as close as we can we possibly
can and
otherwise there's no point it's just so
much poison out there
he's mad
the best way to describe it poison
yeah yeah and i think experience
is the best education i mean that's
that's all i i have to offer people
is just creating your own experience
drinking the tea
and you know because some people they
come they say oh i you know i'm thinking
about doing this class and it's like a
thousand dollar class it's like i don't
that definitely won't return that value
to you i mean if
if you want to have that experience then
value that
in itself but to think that this
certification is magically going
to increase your success as a business
person or increase your likelihood of
getting hired
you know in the tea industry and by the
way like that is such a
you know a sad thing is like a lot of
people get involved in these educations
because they want to get a job in the
and the only the only jobs available in
the industry are with the big guys
you know small businesses that's not a
job that's a sweat equity
investment of your time co-founder
entrepreneurship thing
you know so um yeah
i often find with teaching is that
actually a lot of it with
i mean like the teaching that i've been
actually a lot of it is about
so there's actually a lot of coaching
going on because
because it when when you know when you
meet a good teacher
it's never about the knowledge itself
the teacher is so sensitive so
compassionate so
patient in discovering what's in there
for you
and then to use the knowledge to guide
through it and that is the true teaching
and and when i
when you know this sort of certification
is another form of cultural
appropriation on individuality
because we just want to brainwash people
all the same shape and form in
expression and we can come
out and serve the right race which is
not about
it's not about empowering people it's
not about helping people to find out who
they really are
what they find energizing doing what
they want you to do
in order to find joy in jobs you know
all of these things
is is the the way to educate
that is so outdated well i would say
outdated actually
it's gone off the authentic part
of teaching which is is about knowing
your students and
students have faith in the teaching
and the teacher also have faith in in
the students
and it's about nurturing their own
and really be there to guide them
and that is not what modern world
is so i think you know for me is
very important to be a lot like
in even like what i say um
sometimes it's very tricky you need to
be very aware as a as
somebody who's sharing knowledge um but
but i think we we all need to be aware
of that as
as um as as the
elders share knowledge with the younger
they need less experience
they need um love and nurturing and
we need to see that and to do that
for them
which i think you know again it's a slow
but but i think that actually
um serves me better uh teaching one
person than
ten definitely because then they'll go
and teach
another person and another person if you
exert that impression
yeah yeah that yeah
that's that's the future i think
education is so important particularly
with young people
and what i my experience with younger
people who are 21 or 20 or
you know all the other if you're under
22 you come on any of the courses we're
running is free
and i realized they are so switched on
like if i was like them when i was 20
i'd be like i'll be a fairy now like
i'll be a saint
they're so woke you know they're so
fantastic and they know exactly what
they're gonna do
they know what's evil what's good and
they have a very strong compass they
know where to shop
they're just out there they have the
so that gives me hope and when these
people come
and for example hear a course on living
that's gonna change their whole
perception of knowing tea
and that to me just it gets me laughing
uh waking up at night i think it's just
it's just so great
and i think you know the generation the
the education on younger people is it's
yeah i'm in full support of the
rebellion the right guys the the
is um a uh pentagon document here in the
united states where the military
uh is thinking that in 2025
and peaking in 2028 so in five years
um generation z who is this generation
you're talking about
uh are going to like hack and completely
all the corporate interests and um
yeah basically yeah i'm in full support
of it you know i know i'm not part of
that generation but if they need a
leader i'm more than happy to help
yeah which is i think it's going to be
very exciting new a new decade ahead
and look what's already around us so
you know that's the optimistic side of
the pessimistic
person um yeah
elise thank you so much for sharing all
your stories and your thoughts and
um would you like to conclude a few key
points for everyone to take away today
um yeah drink good tea and you know
if you can't afford a lot of it then
don't drink a lot of it there you go
that's it
holistic like that
but um yeah you can reach out to me
dot com um you know i'm doing a lot of
uh live streaming through our social
channels at t-let t
and i put the link in the chat for that
series of classes it's 20 different
classes you can do
as many as you want of course the more
classes you do
the the lower the price per class it is
but um yeah let's stay in touch
we'll keep the fight going this is my
life so you know don't feel like you'd
be bothering me to send me an email or
reaching out i'm i'm very happy to
to help thank you thank you
and do let us know how to support in
terms of the courses and everything else
you know we're we're here for each other
and i think
thank you everyone for tuning in and um
for for the very beautiful time shared
together cpnt
and and just express ourselves um i
think to me what i take away with is
is it it gives me hope it makes me also
feel that was although we're very small
and but we're not alone and whenever
there's a tea
uh sharing table there it always makes
makes me feel like that and i'm sure
most people resonate so it gives me such
and also well what i as personally and
also as classifies people through going
um so yeah we we keep on sharing so
we're gonna have
a range of different talks like this
um so stopping on stopping sustainable
sustainable is gonna keep on every other
um and there's also other talks i i
definitely don't think this is last time
elise and i are gonna be right
on this particular topic so do tune back
in two weeks and check out the tea house
on different subjects
of things that we're sharing and um if
you have any thoughts you wanted to
with us all of us and please just drop
me a line
and be good to hear from you and thank
friends around the world family around
the world
and have a good evening day and the rest
of the weekend
thank you so much

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