I have to confess something: I’ve always been a coffee girl. Give me mug brimming with a fresh pour-over (hold the cream and sugar), and I’ll give you a hug and a coffee-stained grin. Coffee. It’s kind of my thing.
All that to say: I’ve been reading “The Way of Tea and Justice” with giant eyes as I’ve followed Becca Stevens on her beautiful journey of discovering the power behind a cup of tea…and wow. Coffee people, keep reading. There’s good stuff ahead. (And a local cafe collaboration, and giveaway, so really, keep reading. You know you want to know what #randomactofgratitude is all about!)
Becca is the founder of Thistle Farms, a co-op that comes alongside women recovering from trafficking and abuse. She also started Thistle Stop Cafe in Nashville, which helps those survivors heal as cafe workers, and connects them with women who harvest tea overseas, who are now finding freedom and dignity in fair wages.
Becca weaves her own stories together with the women she’s worked with as well as tea’s riveting history. I found myself surprised with how engaging tea’s history really is. It’s so big and global and yet nothing I’ve ever known…or maybe have ever cared to know.
I’m so thankful to have been able to curl up with this and soak in Becca’s wisdom and beautiful style of writing as she narrates her journey to justice by way of tea.
She shares the heartbeat behind Thistle Stop Cafe:
“Trafficking is a direct result of silence and ignorance by communities. It is rooted in the desire to keep the sickness of addiction and child abuse secret. The more light we can shed and the more we can help educate the population, the safer our whole community will be. The cafe would provide pastors and friends a place to bring folks who were abused and scared to speak their truth.”
In “The Way of Tea and Justice,” Becca beautifully takes us down paths and weaves us around corners — while gently holding our hands. She has a penchant for prose and a pastor’s heart (she’s actually ordained) — and that shines in her words. Her act-local, think-global perspective is a balm to the me-me-me culture we so often see.
“When we drink tea, we are connected to every other tea drinker in the world by the virtue of the common plant and the global trade. A woman who has taken off her burka in the safety of a friend’s parlor in Saudi Arabia is having a common experience of fellowship to that of a man walking into the famous London department store Harrod’s for an afternoon tea. A new mom leaning over a small stove heating water in rural Kenya is sharing the anticipation that a woman in Tokyo feels in a high-rise downtown after a long day of work.“
At that point in the book I was practically running to our cupboards to see what kind of old teabag I could cull out from beneath old Halloween candy.
In all seriousness, Becca’s profound paragraphs about the poverty of tea pickers in Rwanda — a country known for importing organic and fair-trade tea to the States — did get me thinking. What does the tea trade look like? How are we connected? How do we live a walk of compassion and grace?
“My time in Rwanda reminds me that we are all connected. We are connected just like all the tea plants come from the same roots. The women who grow and pick the leaves are connected to the consumers. The women who will serve this tea at the Thistle Stop Cafe will forever be connected to the growers of this tea. If we can remind ourselves of the connection, we can build a world of fairer-traded tea.”
“The Way of Tea and Justice” is one of those books that you want to hand-off to a friend so she (or he!) can dwell in the pages, too. And, most importantly, so you can gather around a table, making the pages come alive, giving thanks and dreaming together about little things to make our big world just a little better.
Becca writes often about gratitude and community, and I’m excited to share that this little blog of mine is collaborating with The Old Factory, a local coffee (and tea!) shop with #randomactofgratitude. Because we believe there is power in community, right where you are. And we really believe there’s power in giving thanks. And we think “The Way of Tea and Justice” is so good, we’re teaming up with the book’s publisher to give a copy away to one of you, too.
World-changing lies in whispered dreams shared in the corner booth of a local cafe. World-changing lies in giving thanks and breaking bread and hands grasped around a thick mug. World-changing lies in us with the power His spirit. Can you believe it?
I want you to know, my local friends and my online tribe, that I’m grateful for you.
So, join us with a #randomactofgratitude. Grab your phone and Instagram a photo of your #randomactofgratitude. Tag me (@kaylacraig) and The Old Factory (@oldfactorycoffeeshop) and you’re entered to win:
A hardcover copy of “The Way of Tea and Justice“, a gorgeous hand-lettered mug, and one ounce of hand-blended whole leaf tea.
Becca writes this, and it echoes my heart, too:
“What makes the tea of life sweet for me is the freedom to act on what I believe. It is so sweet to have a dream of community and then to find a space and a group of people who offer one another the resources to act on that dream. The cup we have been given is sweetened with prayer and also with walks in the woods that let dreams steep among old oaks and ancient rocks.”
Disclaimer: Affiliate links used when applicable.