Avatar: Iroh’s Tea Symbolizes Character Regarded as Metaphoric Avatar

Avatar: Iroh's Tea Symbolizes Character Regarded as Metaphoric Avatar
Avatar: Iroh's Tea Symbolizes Character Regarded as Metaphoric Avatar

Avatar: The Last Airbender is a Western animated film set in an Asian-inspired mythical world. Uncle Iroh’s moral lectures and patience are essential to the series. While Iroh’s love of tea was often played for laughs on The Last Airbender, there was a deeper meaning and purpose behind his preference for jasmine tea and ginseng tea.

The mythical world is where the four elements and four nations are supposed to live in peace. It is up to the Avatar, a one-of-a-kind being endowed with Raava’s light, to keep the world in balance, although there are a few unapproved Avatars as well.

Uncle Iroh’s love of tea is more than a character quirk; it physically and symbolically expresses his Avatar-like attitude. On a physical level, brewing and drinking tea combines all four components, with no bending necessary, as aficionados have pointed out. Even if they can’t bend the four elements or travel the spirit realm on their own, these characters represent everything the Avatar stands for.

Tea is only possible when the elements are in harmony, whether bending or not, and Iroh, who has studied the other components, would realize this. If he can learn to deflect lightning just by seeing waterbenders at work, he’ll understand that tea is what brings the elements together — and, for that matter, people together. Bending the four elements is only the beginning of the Avatar, as per the CBR news. 

Iroh’s Character

In a physical sense, Iroh’s tea embodies the four elements, but the Avatar is ultimately about bringing people together in peace and harmony, and tea can help with that as well. Tea is a pleasant and appreciated beverage that anybody from any country or culture can appreciate, and innocent and neutral hobbies like these can unite people who are otherwise extremely different together in works of fiction and real life.

Iroh’s tea consumption was a lesson in itself. They point out that all four bending elements are required to produce a fantastic cup of tea. If any of these factors are missing, the tea will be much less enjoyable to drink. Iroh understood this, just as he understood that defeating the Fire Nation required the cooperation of all four elements.

On the surface, Iroh’s fondness for tea appears to be nothing more than a simple personality feature, yet it also represents his spirituality and relaxing nature. Uncle Iroh taught Zuko about the need for tolerance and listening in the context of attaining harmony and balance among the four nations. While this notion is never proved in the program, it’s a deep and important approach to reconsider Iroh’s tea addiction, as reported by the Inverse website. 

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