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Community Tea in Thailand: Bree Tells her Tale

This time last year, I returned to northeastern Thailand for the third time.

Bree Far Off in the Field of Tea
Bree Far Off in the Field of Tea

Always a drinker of tea, and further inspired by my experiences as a tea-tender at Samovar Tea Lounge, I arrived loaded with an assortment of tea and tea ware that I hoped would last me through the Fall.  After introducing friends and co-workers to the delicious tea that I had brought from San Francisco, an idea was born to create a community space and to use tea as the vehicle for encouraging conversation, art, music, and the exchange of ideas.

Motivated by the insight and conversation that sipping tea leads to, we saw the potential to create a space for “tea and the art of aesthetic dialogue.”

In October, I traveled with my good friend, Adisak, to his home in Northern Thailand. In the mountains of Mae Salongwe, we found thriving fields of tea and a family of tea masters creating really delicious teas. Together, Adisak and I harvested, processed, and returned to our developing tea house with organic tea from a small family farm.

Within one week of our return, the doors opened to Wong Nam Cha, our non-profit, donation-based, volunteer-run teahouse in the city of Khon Kaen.  Wong Nam Cha, (which translates as “Circle of Tea” from Thai) is set beside a lake and underneath the 7 looming tiers of Khon Kaen’s most beautiful temple.

Wong Nam Cha is a monetary and non-monetary donation-based tea house. Our community has adorned the space with a random arrangement of donated desks, chairs, and decorations.  The in-house bi-lingual library is also made-up entirely of donations.  Friends sell their local handicrafts (including natural tie-dyed and hand-bound notebooks made by primary school students), handmade baked goods and other Thai snacks.

To think that, with the help of a community of friends, a teahouse can be born from a few shared sips of tea and inspiration.

In my next blog entry, I will go more into detail about harvesting the organic tea in Mae Salongwe.

-Bree for Samovar Life

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