Two Old Women and Their Tea

 There were once two small old ladies who sat down, one day, to tea. On the table were fruit scones, clotted cream, and raspberry jam, all made from the labors of their own four hands. It was the tea that had made the longest journey. Indeed, its journey was much longer than the cream that came from the cow that pastured near the old women’s cottage, the raspberries and honey that came from the bees they kept and the bushes they harvested, and the wheat they threshed and ground, the eggs they gathered, and the currents they plucked and dried.

            In fact, the tea had come from nowhere near their cottage. It came from far off lands, where the air grew moist and hot, where each leaf was plucked by fingers far different than those the two women possessed. It came by means of caravan routes filled with goods and on the backs of people carrying heavy burdens, and then it traveled on the decks of well-worn ships across many seas. It made its way through ports and customs, had its quality verified, and worked its way into warehouses that sifted and placed it into delightfully colorful tins.

            Only when it came to their door by means of their local grocer, did the tea find its way into a pot, and then into cups which warmed four gnarled, withered, hands.

            Their tea, however, was not like other tea. They knew that not all tea was made as their tea, not all wages were paid as fairly, not all people treated as kindly as those who plucked their tea. But of their tea, they had an intimate knowledge, for they followed its production with extraordinary care. They had decided long ago: it would never do to enjoy a luxury that had caused others pain.

            Thus, as the tea sat in the cups which rested in the hands of the two old women, they sent up warm thoughts for all those along the journey from far off lands which brought such fragrant delight, and rested in the knowledge that every one of them had been treated fairly.

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