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About the Author:
Lisa Boalt Richardson

With a passion for the Lord and an extensive knowledge of specialty teas, Lisa Boalt Richardson shares her heart for the Lord's work in her life while using the creative word picture of specialty tea preparation. She is married with two children living in Georgia but travels the country for speaking, marketing and training events for the tea industry.


Giving God Your Leaves

By Lisa Boalt Richardson - Certified Specialty Tea Expert

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
- 2 Corinthians 6:17

Tea is wonderful refreshment and is one of the most popular beverages in the world, second only to water. The process of taking tea from the tea plant to the teacup is a fascinating one, indeed. Whether your favorite tea is black, oolong, green or even white, tea all comes from basically one plant, the Camellia Sinensis.

The Camellia Sinensis can grow very large, but growers train it to be a bush and shape it to allow for the best picking or plucking. The process of shaping a plant in this way is called “bringing into bearing.” Harvesting is done by hand for most premium grade teas. The finest teas consist of the top two leaves and a bud (the bud of the leaf not the flower) and are taken from very young shoots of the plant. This is called a “fine plucking.”

For a moment, think of yourself as a tea plant. God has trained and shaped you into exactly who you are. He has brought you “into bearing” and desires your very best, your top two leaves and a bud. He wants to take your leaves and turn them into the finest tea. Perhaps He desires you to become a wonderful Darjeeling , also known as the champagne of teas grown in the foothills of the Himalayas and considered by many to be the best. Or maybe He desires you to become a superb Keemum, known as the true ambassador of teas because it is so universally enjoyed. But in order for us to become like one of these teas, we must give God our leaves. He a patient God and will not pluck your leaves until you allow Him to. Giving Him your leaves separates you from the plant and allows God to take you on a process of becoming an exceptional tea.

I gave God my leaves when I was four years old. I remember sitting under my mother’s sewing machine while she was sewing. I was asking her all kinds of questions about things I had heard in church as well as things I had heard at home. Right there under the sewing machine, I gave God my leaves. In my child’s voice, I told Him I had done bad things and was sorry for them. I expressed that I knew He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to save me so I could go to heaven, and I wanted to give my life to Him. That was the best choice I ever made! I have never regretted my decision. God took my leaves into His hands that day. He became my “Tea Master” and started the process of turning my leaves into the finest Darjeeling .

After giving God my leaves, He took them and began to process them. The processing of my leaves was an important step in His making me into a fine tea. I first began to wither and become flaccid. Life seemed to be going well. My childhood was filled with happy days and I was a cheerful child. God was an important part of my family life ever since I can remember. My father was a minister and then later an evangelist/singer who even wrote a song for me called Sunshine (that was his nickname for me). I was taught from a young age about God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy. My mother was a stay-at-home mom who spent a lot of time with my siblings and me. In the summertime, we would travel some with my father and go to his concerts. We visited many churches around the country helping sell his albums.

I remember spending a lot of my childhood on the beach in south Florida. We would have picnics and play in the sand all day long. Just as the air passes over the tea leaves in the withering stage, the wonderful ocean breeze blew through my hair and filled my lungs. To this day, there is nothing more calming, soothing, and relaxing to me than to lay on the beach, to hear the ocean, and to smell and feel the salt-filled air all around me.

The withering of my leaves allowed me to be ready for the next step in the processing of my leaves. I was now ready for the required rolling phase. The rolling of my leaves happened when I was 16 years old. My father left and my parents divorced. I felt bruised and extremely crushed. Everything I thought to be true suddenly had been turned upside down. My father changed the rules in the middle of the game without telling me. Mother was left to finish the game without a lot of resources. I was angry, sad, and uncertain of my Christian walk. I had always been told that divorce was wrong in God’s eyes. Where was He in all of this? How could this have happened to our family?

After this happened, I began to question many things. I would sit in church every Sunday and wonder who was real and who was putting on a show. Did the pastor really live the life he preached about or was it all a facade? As my leaves began to oxidize, I realized I needed to find out for myself what was true and what God meant to me.

While tea leaves oxidize, their color changes. So did mine. I finished high school and started college. I was going to conquer the world. Nothing was going to stop me. Although I had always been a hard worker through high school, I had to work even harder to put myself through college. I was driven. No one was going to tell me what to do. Along the way, I dated many boys, but had not had a serious relationship since high school.

I didn’t want to let anyone in, until I met a young man introduced to me through a mutual friend while I was in college in Southern California . We were young and with numerous things to learn. Although our love was deep, our spirits were immature. We married and moved to North Carolina so he could attend college and I could begin my exciting career. The drying stage of my leaves had arrived. It was time for the heat.

After moving we seemed to put it off. I was the stronger Christian. In fact, I had led him to Christ while we were dating, but we allowed Jesus to go way down on the list of our priorities. The further down God was put on our list, the further down our marriage seemed to go. I was definitely feeling the heat. My leaves were drying quickly; my life was on shaky ground.

I didn’t want to give my Tea Master my whole processed leaf. I wanted to hang on to the big leaves and just give him the dust, but He had other plans. Remember God wants us to become the finest tea possible and that requires the whole leaf, fully twisted, without stem, bright color, and with the bud still on.

My Tea Master was trying to decant my leaves (a process of removing unwanted elements) but I was holding on to them tightly. I was afraid to let them go. God knew if my leaves were not decanted soon, my tea would become totally bitter. After years of pain, distrust, heart ache, deliberate disobedience, divorce and more details of a life without surrender to my Tea Master.

I began to see the need to remove the unnecessary leaves from my tea. With many heartaches and challenges in my second marriage already, my husband and I went to a marriage retreat around our third anniversary. We gave each other Bibles at the conference. My husband wrote in mine, “I love you and am excited about working on our marriage and living a long and happy life with you.” I was so blessed to have a partner who still wanted to work on our marriage. After everything we had been through, he was still there and he still wanted me.

There were too many leaves and the tea sock was too heavy to lift on my own. While I was pregnant with my second child, I tried to seek counseling. I went to my church’s staff psychologist and told him my story. He told me I needed to pray about it and sent me on my way. Maybe that is part of the reason it took almost four years to go back. Not only was I in agony, but he made me feel that if I were just spiritual enough, God would hear my prayers and I would be healed. I needed more than that! I needed someone to guide me through the healing process. I needed someone to show me how to allow my Tea Master to decant my leaves. I needed someone to walk me through the steps. I was afraid to lift off the lid and look at my leaves. It was all too painful and too big to confront.

Years later, I started counseling with a Christian counselor who started me on the journey of decanting my leaves, a journey that involved forgiveness, healing and freedom. We began with my parents’ divorce and worked our way to my marriage with my husband. The doctor’s theme for my healing was John 8:32: “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

In the beginning, as the doctor and I worked through my hurts, they hurt even worse. Reliving how my leaves went through their processing and steeping was excruciating. Opening up the teapot lid to reveal the steeping leaves was painful. But my Tea Master helped me through it. That was what He was there for. If only I would let go of my leaves. Slowly I began to see my leaves being lifted out of the teapot. Only the strength to do it came from my Tea Master not from me. As I began to allow myself to grieve my losses and to forgive others for the hurts they had caused me, I began to feel the leaves parting my tea. Even harder than forgiving others was to forgive myself for the mistakes I had made. How could my Tea Master possibly turn my leaves into the finest cup of Darjeeling ? I felt as though I wasn’t worthy of that. But God said I was. So if He could forgive me, I certainly should be able to forgive myself. True healing began when I stopped asking God “why?” and starting asking Him “what next?” with great anticipation.

I cannot begin to express the freedom I experienced once I sought out the truth--God’s truth. Once my leaves were decanted, I was liberated. Only then could I begin to think the tea party was around the corner and I deserved to be a part of it.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God had called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14


Lisa RIchardson is Founder of Lisa Richardson, Inc. and owner of the website She is working on her first book, " Don't Miss the Tea Party" combining her extensive knowledge of specialty teas with her personal journey of faith with God.

Copyright © June 10, 2006 – Lisa Boalt Richardson. All rights reserved.

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