Posted by: Lauren | September 9, 2009

Three Cups of Tea

I’m currently reading a great book called Three Cups of Tea. The story, though not about tea, recounts the real life adventures of Greg Mortenson in Pakistan where he sought out to build schools. Tea is mentioned throughout the book as it is a main part of the culture there. It always fascinates me how tea plays a different role in each culture it is a part of.

The quote that gave the book its name has really stuck with me. Mortenson’s mentor in Pakistan, Haji Ali, explained: “The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do everything, even die.”

Mortenson took this passage to heart: “We Americans think you have to accomplish everything quickly. We’re the country of thirty-minute power lunches and two-minute football drills. Our leaders thought their ‘shock and awe’ campaign could end the war in Iraq before it even started. Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects. He taught me that I had more to learn from the people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them.”

This passage really stuck out with me. It is a reminder of what tea symbolizes for many cultures – peace, respect, and a calmer more appreciative way of life.

Though I have not yet completed this book, I would highly recommend it to others. Mortenson’s mission in Pakistan is amazing and having started out poor himself, it is enthralling to read of his quest to build schools for young, uneducated children. It is wonderful to read the passages about tea that are written throughout the book as well. For instance, butter tea is a regular part of life in Pakistan, which is made of tea leaves, yak butter and salt. These excerpts about how the culture has included tea add to the fascination of the book from a tea lover’s point of view.

Check out the book and enjoy it for yourself!

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