Tea isn’t just a drink. Enjoying tea is an experience and an essential part of life for many of us around the world.
If you were to ask most tea drinkers about their first experience with tea, you would likely get a story. Tea entered my life in college while on a spontaneous visit to England with my best friend. When we walked into that London tea room on a cold winter day, I couldn’t help but feel the shift in atmosphere. It was busy and crowded, but there was an air of peace and reverence in this warm and welcoming room. Waiters bustled about from table to table, but the patrons sat closely huddled together quietly sharing stories or simply enjoying tea in silence. That was when I realized: tea is a sacred thing.
Fast forward a couple of years to when I had the chance to study abroad in several countries around the world. In each of them, there was tea. It wasn’t the same substance, nor the same methods of preparation, but the reverence was the same. Shop keepers, locals, host families, and friends would serve tea to their guests. They would all carefully prepare the drink in exactly the right way. They would present it to me with a look of pride, friendship, and expectation in their eyes. Granted, sometimes that expectation was a shop keeper hoping I would buy something. But the theory still stands: tea is a vessel for relationships.
Tea Rituals Teach Us About Culture
The Japanese tea ceremony is filled with history and delicate ritual. Every motion is on purpose, and the tea served matches the delicate motions. Indian chai is prepared with individually strong and aromatic spices that blend together to make a drink as complex and invigorating as the country itself. Apple tea, served in Turkey, really isn’t tea at all, but its super sweet warmth and easy preparation means that enjoying tea amongst friends is just seconds away at any moment.
No matter where you go, the preparation, taste, and service of tea emulates some of the best aspects of the culture.
Enjoying Tea Together Strengthens Relationships
It’s incredibly easy to have a conversation over tea. Most people don’t guzzle their tea as a means of pure caffeination. Instead, enjoying tea together is a slower process, which means more time to connect and serve one another. It gives us all a common ground. Even if we have absolutely nothing in common and oppose one another on most topics of conversation, we can at least talk about what’s in the cup. With a communal pot on the center of the table, we even have the opportunity to serve one another a little cup of peace.
With so many different flavors, we can also try something new amongst friends or colleagues, thus connecting and creating relationships. It doesn’t matter what demographic you fit into or why you’re there, tea is a common ground for us all. You can even put this to the test and host a Teen Tea Party.
Each Cup Encourages Us to Slow Down and Reflect
You can’t make a cup of tea without waiting for at least a couple of minutes. It forces you to think. To taste. To consider the flavor and whether it needs more cream or sugar. To make your cup of tea exactly the way you like it, you have to focus on it. Even if just for a moment, you can block out everything else and fix your tea just right. You have to be present, which is something we must all be reminded of on occasion (check out Katie Taylor’s podcast on Practicing Presence).
In fact, there’s an element of psychology in the rituals surrounding tea as well. Repeated over and over, the process becomes psychosomatic. You’ll start to get that end result feeling as soon as you start going through the motions.
Tea Allows You to be Uniquely You in Subtle Ways
Flavors, cups, steepers, sweeteners. There are so many ways to be uniquely you all in one cup of tea. Are you a highly refined professional who secretly loves glitter and unicorns? Float that unicorn infuser in your sparkly cup and rock that meeting. More of an inner city resident longing for the great big, open, starry sky at the cabin? Steep that earthy blend in your favorite plaid cup with a celestial tea infuser.
No matter who you are or where you are, enjoying tea can prop you up or transport you to another place. Plum Deluxe has mugs, infusers, and seasonal gifts to get you started.
“When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?”
– Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog