The Rise Of The Tea Picking MonkeysPosted: March 3, 2014
The second half of a tale I started telling…here.
Picking tea was a path to the good life for generations of monkeys. And then innovation lifted the tea industry while it drove monkeys to the poor house.
The poor house is something I don’t know much about. I’m sure it exists because when I was a kid my father used to say “you’re going to drive me to the poor house”. The poor house didn’t seem like somewhere I wanted to send dad, so I changed my ways.
The Monkeys Find Themselves In Hot Water
The change that hit the tea industry hit the monkeys so fast that they had no chance to change their ways.
When tea was grown on trees, monkeys pulled down some serious cabbage harvesting the most savory tea leaves. Then a human realized that the trees could be trimmed to the size of bushes. Tea bushes meant that the crop could be harvested without the expense of paying a skilled simian labor pool. Hard times befell those tea harvesting monks. A lot of them probably saw the poor house.
The worst part was that even though monkeys were not picking tea anymore, the phrase “Monkey Picked Tea” was (and still is) used to market the product. But instead of meaning that monkeys were at work, the phrase now meant that a product contained higher quality tea leaves.
No trickle of the tea industry’s new profitability made it down to the monkeys who lost their jobs. Communities that had thrived were now steeped in misery. Without sufficient income, trouble brewed. Unsavory elements infused the once proud neighborhoods where the unemployed monkeys lived.
A new hope began to rise from this blight. Inspired by some old-timer’s tales of the way things were, a group of younger monkeys wondered why it couldn’t be that way again. Why couldn’t the trees grow tall? Why couldn’t their kind harvest again? Did they dare to dream of self-reliance?
As it turns out, yes, they dared. But it is one thing to dare to dream of pulling yourself up by your boot straps. It is another to realize that you don’t have any boots. So, with the help of a government grant, the monkeys went to work. They formed a corporation and bought a tea plantation. Some of the money went toward sending young monkeys to good agricultural colleges.
When the young ones returned, they had new ways to grow the trees taller and fuller. As the tea trees reached for more sun, more monkeys went back to work at picking tea. The corporation kept their eye on the goal of self-reliance even as they reinvested and grew their market share. Communities that once grew cold were now infused with income and the energy of the working man…or in this case, working monkey.
So today, when you shop for tea, remember that “monkey picked tea” doesn’t always mean that monkeys plucked your leaves. Be a responsible tea drinker. Read the label before you buy. If the package is designated as monkey picked, ask your retailer to confirm that product in the box was indeed harvested by simians.
If your shop keeper can’t say for certain that real monkeys picked their tea, simply refuse to purchase it. Because seriously, throwing feces doesn’t represent anyone very well.
*Todd Snider – Sideshow Blues