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  • The Oolong Drunk

The Link Between Tea and Narcissism

This is rich, especially coming from a social media influencer… I know what you’re probably thinking. It’s either, “Cody’s unhinged again”, or, “Why is the pot calling the kettle a, well narcissist?” 

After working in the tea industry for over a decade, and having a blog for 8+ years, I’ve met a lot of people within various facets of the tea industry — all the way from tea bloggers, educators, high-level executives, and even lower-level social media influencers. I’ve also noticed that despite the industry's image of warmth, love, and self-care, the industry from every angle is very cold and uninviting.  


Regardless of whichever type of tea industry professional, there seem to be people with narcissistic tendencies scattered consistently throughout. So what is it about the tea industry that harbors this specific personality trait? Does this have anything to do with why the industry is cold and uninviting once you peel the first layer of the onion back?


Below are some of my observations, and while not everything is rooted in fact, I will say it with an authoritative stance as if it’s a fact.


So, let's dive in!





The Ritual: 


Tea ceremonies can categorized into two main types: gong-fu and high-tea. 


For many people who drink gong-fu, gong-fu tea is used as escapism to help detach from mental health stressors, and to focus on the senses with breathing techniques. This in itself, is a form of meditation. According to the Healer Within Foundation, the practice of gong-fu tea is an actual form of mindful meditation. However, according to the Oxford Academic, mindful meditation is connected to Hinduism and the Buddhist belief system. One of the major tenets of Hinduism is enlightenment. Given that enlightenment is one of the major tenets of Hinduism, it invites the narcissistic personality trait by making the practicers of Hindus believe that they are more knowledgeable than others.


The superiority complex that’s associated with narcissism and the tie-in with the Hindu belief was studied extensively, and written about by PHD and Author, Dr. Pilar Jennings, whose career incapulizes the study of both psychotherapy and Buddhist meditation. With all of this, the link between gong-fu tea and meditation, with traditional roots in the Hindu tenant of enlightenment, is a short link between connecting gong-fu tea and narcissism. Sitting at the head of the tea table of gong-fu tea, and the idea of leading a tea session can loosely be linked to having a superiority complex. 


However, the link doesn’t just exist with gong-fu tea, the link also exists with high-tea as well. According to Psychology Today, they link that chefs of fine dining intertwine their self-worth into the cuisine they create. This can also translate into high-society as well. According to a journal published in 2013, upper-class individuals suffer from greater psychological entitlement and narcissism. Given that high tea is rooted in classist institutions, the link between high tea and narcissism is a strong one.


Tea Industry Professionals: 


In my experiences as a tea blogger, I’ve worked with a varying amount of tea companies that operated on a small scale, to a massive global production scale, and everything in between. According to a paper published on the Social Science Research Network, CEOs have a statistically higher level of narcissism and a higher level of self-importance. 


In my observations of the tea industry over the past decade, narcissism isn’t specific to high-level executives either. According to a journal published in 2023 on Science Direct, there’s a link between narcissism and entrepreneurship. Given that there has to be a high level of drive, and self-importance to guide that confidence, business owners on a small scale are more susceptible to narcissistic personality disorder tendencies as well.


While I don’t have a direct calculation, I want to point out that you could indicate that a self-important person who partakes in an industry that’s rooted in an attitude that drives self-importance through enlightenment, there is an observation that could be made that this invites a self-important person to partake in a practice that better highlights self-importance. This means that the door is open for a higher percentage of narcissism to flow into the tea industry, compared to other industries.


Tea Bloggers and Self-Care: 


It's no hidden fact that the rise of social media has increased the rise of both narcissism and anxiety among young adults. According to a study published in 2008, researchers indicated that there is a causation between self-image and narcissism, tied to social media and the youth. This takes various shapes, but how does it take shape within the tea social-media blogosphere? 


Self-Care 


Given the large amount of tea bloggers and tea companies that promote self-care, there is actually a link between self-care and narcissism. New York Psychiatrist Dr. Samantha Boardman once wrote that the psychological connection between self-care and self-love can be a tightrope balance between being mindful into being narcissistic. The idea of caring for oneself can be so self-reassuring that it’s more about you — not the people around you.


There is also a link between altruism and narcissism as well. When tea industry bloggers and professionals push the narrative of self-care, they’re the link between sharing self-love, and altruism. According to a medical-reviewed article on MentalHealth.com, altruism masks the personality traits of people who martyr themselves for a belief system. Within social media, there are countless amounts of people who primarily post and lead workshops about self-care, self-love, and self-meditation. While those things are not necessarily a bad thing, surprise surprise, they also make a full circle back into the narcissistic trait of enlightenment...


The Bottom Line: It's All Narcissism  


Based on my findings, you could conclude that there’s an industry of narcissists who congregate around a narcissistic-driven activity with a narcissistic-enlightened attitude, which accompanies financially wealthy and upper-classist narcissistic ideals, pushed and marketed by people with narcissistic entrepreneur self-important drive, which is drunk and talked about by other altruistic narcissists on social media platforms that harbor and grow narcissistic personalities. To make things more comical, tea industry professionals will also award themselves with awards when given the opportunity. In 2023, at the World Tea Expo, they awarded one of their board members (the same board members who voted on tea industry award winners) an award….


Over the past decade in this industry, I can’t count on one hand the number of people I’ve seen who dropped out of the industry because they didn’t receive the outward praise they sought from being within the world of tea. These same people leave the industry disappointed because they looked at other industry narcissists, and realized they didn’t benefit in the same way as the other industry narcissists — the same narcissists who’d boast about knowing how to make tea ‘the right way’ while leading a gong-fu or meditation session.


Some of the signs of narcissistic tendencies I’ve noticed over the past decade, in the tea industry are,


— When someone says they know how to make tea ‘the right way’


— They offer tea and meditation, but only through them, especially if meditation and self-care is more about the host than it is the audience


— When a high-level executive of a tea company regularly posts photos of themselves plucking/making tea, especially if they have the frame of a person who has never worked a day of hard labor in their life


— Their posts and photos of their tea and meditation, are primarily only photos of them drinking tea while meditating


— If they got their high-level position at a tea company through their family/nepotism


— Someone who is aggressively insistent on leading a tea ceremony and wont share the experience by not letting others pour tea at the same said-ceremony


— If they are white and American, and claim they know more about the culture and history of Asian Tea than the people whose culture it is itself


— If they are white and American, and claim that 'tea caused all of the world’s wars', which goes back into manipulating a foreign culture to fit their personal narrative


— If the tea drinker is male and starts a podcast instead of going to therapy


— If they run a tea blog and quit within 6-12 months of launching it because they don’t have the audience they think they should be receiving


— If their Instagram-grid has more photos of them with tea, or enjoying tea, than tea by itself without them


— If you post photos of you leading a tea ceremony with people surrounding you, and post this on a semi-consistent basis.


If you ever question why the tea industry is cold, cliquey, and uninviting despite the warmth it promotes on every single level, you might take a step back and realize that this industry is rooted in self-involvement at every single level. While not everyone in the tea industry is a narcissist, the industry attracts and prevails the narcissistic personality type. If you peel back the onion layers of this industry, you'll see that a lot of the industry is not in it to help you and is certainly not here for the love of tea; behind their front, they're in it for themselves. 


And while not everyone in the industry is a narcissist who is in it for themselves (and while I started this sentence with a coordinating conjunction and end it as a run-on sentence), and while there are a lot of genuine and amazing people in the industry, at the end of the day, I’m a narcissist, you’re a narcissist, and simply -- we’re all narcissists. 


With much love to myself and my accomplishments,


~ Cody

aka The Oolong Drunk

"Blissfully Tea Drunk...."



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