Chinese culture’s national pastime is finally making a revival—the SF International Tea Festival is only promoting the knowledge of it even more. The festival will be held at San Francisco's historic Ferry Building the first weekend of November 2018, where you will not only see numerous teas vendors sharing their unique experiences with tea, but also enjoy the beautiful scenic views of the city. I had the fortunate opportunity to interview the person who started it all, Roy Fong. His story not only taught me more about this beverage, but it also made me realize how the small things can change a person's whole life.

Connections Made Through Tea

Tea ceremony photo by 五玄土 ORIENTO (@oriento) on Unsplash

Unsplash on unsplash

Roy Fong, founder of the SF International Tea Festival, was just another person, like all of us. He fell in love with the aroma of tea and has been working with this passion for the past 40 years. However, his whole journey started with love and opportunity. If it weren’t for the people Roy met, specifically an individual who shipped him a whole container filled with tea, he wouldn’t be in the position he is in now. He admitted several times how fortunate he was, and how the blessings in his life weren’t meant to be limited to him. This was the motivation that started everything.

In 2011, Roy created the SF International Tea Festival in hopes to help "little guys like him." The festival’s intention is to connect individuals, whether they are avid tea enthusiasts or just people interested in tea, and to show that a little trust and belief in others goes a long way.

Making connections over tea can be done through learning the culture behind tea for different people.There is so much history behind tea that if we don’t learn about the culture, we can never master the art of tea. In some Asian cultures, it's not uncommon for visitors to receive a cup of tea from the host—the act of conversing and sipping tea together allows for the individuals to connect on a more personal level. From this simple act, a cup of tea reveals a lot about the character of a person.

Elements of Tea

Tea photo by Lisa Hobbs (@lisahobbs) on Unsplash

Unsplash on unsplash

You can easily feel the tea enthusiasm leaking from Roy. He illustrated a concept that I've never, in my life, heard before. When Roy said that you needed the Five Elements—metal, wood, water, fire, and earth—to make the perfect cup of tea, I immediately thought, Avatar, the Last Airbender? Fortunately, this wasn't the case. 

At first glance, you wouldn't think there's metal in your tea; however, tea is grown in soil, which contains numerous minerals. Typically the porcelain cup which holds the tea is also made with some components of metal. The element of wood is the tea itself, nourished by water. It not only includes the boiling water that tea is served with, but also the rain from above which helps the tea plant thrive. Fire is part of the roasting process of tea, which changes the flavor, and part of the heat from the sun, which all life forms need for growth. Finally without earth, none of this—tea, people, interactions—would be possible. Without these elements being perfectly balanced, your cup of tea wouldn't be at its fullest potential.

Importance of Tea

Tea, cup, saucer and flower HD photo by rawpixel (@rawpixel) on Unsplash

Unsplash on unsplash

Tea is not only a crucial component of many cultures, but is also deemed to have multiple health benefits. In the ancient days, tea was exclusive only to royalty and their subjects due to the lack of transportation advancement. However, now tea is seen like air—it’s there but we don’t notice it. The importance of tea runs in the bloodstream of many individuals, yet a majority of us treat this beverage as a grain of salt.

Attending this tea festival will not only help you learn more about the wonders of tea, but it could also connect you with individuals and opportunities, to guide you towards success in your life. Take a break from your schoolwork and hop on the BART down to San Francisco. Maybe you'll meet the individuals who can help you achieve your dreams.