Tea Wisdom for the Coming Year

“Tea is the elixir of life.” – Lao Tsu

Since its legendary discovery by Chinese Emperor Shen Nong over 5,000 years ago, tea has become far more than boiling water poured over leaves and steeped. 

 

During its long history, tea has become a commodity, a meditation or a means to relax and center oneself, a beneficial elixir, and even a ceremony that can bring about peace between people and even nations. Tea has inspired poets, songwriters, philosophers, and everyday people for centuries.  

At Sir Jason Winters International, we love talking about all things tea-related. Now, at the turn of the New Year, we wanted to share some of our favorite tea quotes. Many of these are about the wisdom, benefits, and overall goodness of tea. So sit back and relax with your favorite cup of tea and allow yourself to indulge!

Tea for Peace of Mind

“My dear, if you could give me a cup of tea to clear my muddle of a head, I should better understand your affairs.”Charles Dickens

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis upon which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.: – Thich Nhat Hah, ‘The Miracle of Mindfulness’

The relaxing and almost meditative quality of tea comes from enjoying a cup or even a pot of tea at various times of the day. Both nutritionists and meditation masters believe that tea serves to relieve stress and gives us a kind of relaxed attention.  

Scientists have found that this relaxing quality is because of the amino acid theanine. Studies show that theanine can reduce stress levels. When combined with the naturally occurring caffeine within tea, it boosts awareness and provides a sense of well-being and relaxation. And there really is nothing like cradling a hot cup of tea between your hands and relaxing far away from the winter chill!

Tea and Good Health

“Better to be deprived of food for three days than tea for one” Ancient Chinese Saying

“Tea is a miraculous medicine for the maintenance of health. Tea has an extraordinary power to prolong life. Anywhere a person cultivates tea, long life will follow.– Eisai Kitcha Yojoki, (13th Century)

Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary.” Chinese Proverb

“My experience…convinced me that tea was better than brandy, and during the last six months in Africa I took no brandy, even when sick taking tea instead.” – Theodore Roosevelt

We drink tea when we are sick or when we need a warm pick-me-up to feel better.   Indeed, researchers have found that the phytochemicals found in tea provide potent antioxidants to protect us from the effects of toxins in our environment that we encounter every day.  Often, when we feel the onset of a cold, some of those health-promoting substances within tea can act to help us feel better.  These include catechins and theanine, which are antioxidants that fight free radicals that can damage cells within the body. 

Scientists at Harvard University and other medical research centers around the world have conducted decades of study. Many of these studies indicate that tea drinkers of both black and green tea are less prone to some chronic diseases. Among these diseases are diabetes, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, Parkinson’s disease.  Researchers have also found evidence that drinking tea regularly may reduce the risk of some forms of cancer, including breast, colon, and oral cancers. Some scientists believe that this added benefit is due because of the polyphenols found in the Camellia sinensis or tea plant. 

Other potential health benefits of tea include promoting weight loss, lowering cholesterol, giving slight protection to the skin by providing some UV protection, and promoting better overall dental health. Scientific studies conducted in China, the United States, and the United Kingdom also show that tea may even act to slow cognitive decline in patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. 

While all of this might sound promising, scientists recommend that when consuming tea, be careful not to drink it while it’s too hot. Researchers have found that consuming very hot drinks might increase the risk of esophageal cancer.  They recommend allowing your tea to cool for several minutes before drinking it.

Tea and Friendship

“Usually, if you stop for tea, someone will feel the desire to join you.” – Sunita Williams

 “What is the most wonderful thing for people like myself who follow the Way of Tea? My answer: the oneness of host and guest created through ‘meeting heart to heart’ and sharing a bowl of tea.” – Soshitsu Sen, “Tea Life, Tea Mind”

My copper kettle whistles merrily
And signals that it is time for tea.
The fine china cups are filled with the brew.
There’s lemon and sugar and sweet cream, too.
But, best of all there’s friendship, between you and me.
As we lovingly share our afternoon tea.” – Marianna Aroli

According to tea master, Sen-no-Rikyu in “The Way of Tea,” written in the 16th Century, there are four essential elements needed for Tea’s art. These elements are harmony, respect, tranquility, and purity. Master Sen-No-Rikyu turned raised tea into both a philosophy and an art form and helped bring about the chanoyu or what we know today as the formal Japanese tea ceremony. 

While taking tea with friends doesn’t have to be a formal affair.  Tea can be as casual or as formal as you wish. When it’s between friends and loved ones, there are no rules for tea.  However, there is something about the almost ceremonial quality of making teatime special.  Putting on the kettle and serving tea in a special pot alongside home-baked treats just for the sheer enjoyment of it can be an unexpected and memorable treat.

By sitting and having tea with one or more friends and allowing the fragrance, the warmth, and the tastes to relax you, the time becomes exceptional.  You may find that by simply taking time out of your day and spending it with others, you’ll want to make tea and friendship a regular habit throughout the coming New Year.

With that, we will leave you with one final quote that we love:

“Tea is liquid wisdom.” – Traditional Saying

Resources

Lam, Kam Chuen., Kai Sin. Lam, and Tin Yu. Lam. The Way of Tea: The Sublime Art of Oriental Tea Drinking. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, 2002. Print.

Peltier, Warren. The Ancient Art of Tea: Wisdom from the Old Chinese Tea Masters. Rutland, VT: Tuttle, 2011. Print.

Rosen, Diana. The Book of Green Tea. Pownal, VT: Storey, 1994. Print.

Zak, Victoria. 20,000 Secrets of Tea: The Most Effective Ways to Benefit from Nature’s Healing Herbs. New York: Bantam, 2000. Print.

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