This isn't about tea.

I met Isabel when she was a janitor at Fort Hood, and I was a resident working in the hospital. I remember going to Thanksgiving at her house to have African potato greens and dough balls the same day the hospital commander paraded through the halls having photos taken of him in full regalia while he handed out turkey to inpatients. I remember thinking of the huge contrast between him and his photo op…

and the janitor who was scraping away to try to send money back to the orphanage she’d started and left in the hands of her son–

the contrast between the man with the hundreds of medals on his chest living in comfort and security, and the woman who saw her brother hacked to death during the Liberian civil war, lost everything, and still found something to give to 75 orphaned children.

I know she saw what happened to her brother, because she described it as being “butchered in pieces like a pig.”

You don’t know how to describe something like that if you didn’t either come up on the body yourself or see it happen.

She doesn’t talk in much detail of those days.

Isabel returned to Liberia to continue taking care of her orphanage hands-on in 2018. I began working with her that year, and since then we’ve funded electricity, internet, college scholarships, two prosthetic legs, hospital stays, malaria medications, small business opportunities, and little things like holiday gifts for the kids. 

This is on top of my endeavors to bring medication and trauma recovery support to underprivileged people–especially indigenous women–in Paraguay…

Plus the dozens of human trafficking and human rights orgs we give to monthly.

That’s what this is about.

That’s why this tea business folded in 2023 to become a simple fundraising arm of the new BECOMING HERO charity (501(c)3 pending). Yup. 100 percent of proceeds go to Isabel, my work in Paraguay, and other cool projects like groups that combat human trafficking. The BECOMING HERO philosophy? Find you the tools you need to turn your pain into power–healing into heroism–and use that goodwill from you to fund heroes already out there.

I call it being a consensual Robin Hood. I give you something that helps you, and then I can give your money to someone else who needs it. 

Because it’s not just children in Liberia and indigenous women in Paraguay who are in pain.

And that is where tea comes in.  —

I truly believed my life was over.

This isn’t just talk: I had just been taken out of work because a committee had determined I was in danger of dying.

My nights were plagued by physical pain, like every cell in my body was soaking in acid, and if I could go to sleep, I’d writhe in delirious nightmares. Days were filled with moment after moment of my neurotransmitter-starved brain screaming at me to die. At my lowest, I was deployed to Korea working as a Sexual Assault Care Provider and Battalion Surgeon for the US Army, struggling with experiences that later earned me the dual diagnoses of MDD and PTSD. I’d gone through dozens of medications, therapies, and even hospitalization.

But there was one day when I was walking the streets of Seoul with my husband–very slowly because of exhaustion and pain–and we began to explore tea-houses.

From tiny three-room enclosures hidden away in gardens down ancient, winding cobblestone alleyways, where we sat on cushions on the floor…

To chic, modern cafes with multiple stories and unusual tea-inspired desserts just invented yesterday…

And there was a moment, when I looked over at my husband, with the winter stinging my cheeks and the tea still stirring in my blood, and realized that for the first time I could remember, my mind was quiet, and I was…happy? I began to cry at that realization.

I’m Jen Finelli, MD, SAMFE. Bottom line, dear traveler, I’m not going to play you with promises and dreams. I’ve suffered too much, and I have too much medical training, to claim to sell “cures” here.

But I do believe I can offer you the same thing I found on my pilgrimage through Seoul:

…a moment of rest.

…a moment to take a deep breath.

…and a moment to pause from battling the dragons.

Please choose to rest today, and even if you can’t afford any healthy tea right now,