“When I drink tea
I am conscious of peace
The cool breath of Heaven
Rises in my sleeves, and
Blows my cares away.” – Lo Tung, Chinese Poet
One of the most common things to do at the beginning of a new calendar year is to make resolutions. This year, why not resolve to make tea a part of your daily routine? Taking time out for tea will help you relax and will reward you with additional benefits that tea provides. Tea is so wonderfully good for you; there are just no downsides to establishing the tea habit in the New Year!
The Tea Time Tradition
Other than water, tea is the most consumed beverage on earth. Cultures around the world focus on the beauty and meditative qualities of the preparation and consumption of tea. In countries like China, Japan, Korea, and throughout Asia and the Middle East, tea became even more culturally significant as it was incorporated into both religious and personal rituals.
Dutch and Portuguese traders brought tea to Europe and England in the early 17th Century. In England, it was the wife of King Charles II, Queen Catherine of Braganza who introduced the tradition of taking tea to the royal court.
The tradition of afternoon tea started about 100 years later. In those days dinner was traditionally served around 8:00 p.m. In the 1840’s it was Queen Victoria’s friend, Anna, the Seventh Duchess of Bedford, who began the tradition of afternoon tea because she got hungry before dinner. This is how the tradition of High Tea began and everything in England will slow down to a stop between 4 and 5 pm each day.
Taking Time for Tea
Whether you want to introduce the tradition of afternoon tea or want to opt for something a little less elaborate, You can make your tea time as simple or as elaborate as you wish. It’s an excellent way to give yourself the gift of a timeout. Enjoying a cup of tea has become synonymous with the release of everyday stresses or even sharing quiet moments with a friend. Drinking tea any time of day gives us the necessary space to relax and take time to contemplate. Make tea a daily habit, and in no time you’ll know how to brew the perfect cup of tea.
Here are some things that you can try to give yourself the nurturing habit of tea this year.
- Rather than going for that morning cup of coffee, make yourself a bit of tea in the morning instead. It usually takes less time to make, and it can go with you just as easily as your daily cup of Joe.
- During your workday, take a few minutes to drink some tea. Two to three hours after lunch and a couple of hours before heading home for the day is a perfect time to have a bit of tea. Even if you are at home, tea can be just the thing to turn the mid to late afternoon into a nurturing personal ritual. You can choose to brew a pot or dunk your tea bag in a cup of hot water.
- Studies have shown that drinking tea, even before bedtime can improve sleep so that when you wake up, you are more alert and able to face the day.
- If you are planning a get-together or important event with family and friends, giving someone a written or even impromptu invitation to tea becomes something truly special. According to Greg Mortensen, co-author of the book, Three Cups of Tea, “in Pakistan with the first cup of tea, one is considered a stranger. Sharing a second cup makes you a friend. With a third cup, you are family.” Tea ceremonies have become both a way of interacting socially with others and a daily personal ritual.
It’s All About Taste
Whatever your taste preferences are, there are lots of different varieties and blends of tea. You may find that you absolutely love the tradition of ceremony and the ambrosial taste of green tea, or you may simply relish the strong, almost smoky taste with a hint of Bergamot that is present in some black tea blends.
Herbal teas offer an even wider variety of tastes with the added health benefits that your body needs to relax, recover, or enjoy. Tea time can be an excellent way to explore the many different types of tea tastes to see which one suits you best.
“The Way of Tea” by Master Lam Kam Chuyen, Lam Kai Sin and Lam Tin Yu, 2002, Barron’s Educational Series, NY
“The Everything Healthy Tea Book: Discover the Healthy Benefits of Tea” by Babette Donaldson, 2014, Adams Media, Avon, MA
“Tea at Downton: Afternoon Tea Recipes From the Unofficial Guide to Downton Abbey” by Elizabeth Fellow, 2014, Amazon, Create Space Publishing, Seattle, WA
“Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace – One School at a Time” by Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin, 2007, Penguin Books, New York
“The Ancient Art of Tea: Wisdom from the Old Chinese Tea Masters” by Warren Peltier, 2011, Tuttle Publishing, Rutland, VT
“The Book of Green Tea” by Diana Rosen, 1994, Storey Books, Pownal, VT
“20,000 Secrets of Tea” by Victoria Zak, 1999, Random House, New York, NY