I can count at least twelve brands and twenty-nine varieties of Camellia Sinensis and tisanes in our pantry right now. Why so many? Why not? Each kind is unique and offers a different experience. Whether it be Oolong, Rooibos, Puerh, Green, Black or White… the square, round or pyramid shaped fiber filled sachet packed with cured or fresh leaves is capable of transporting me to another time and place. But often it brings me to the place I most need to be. That is, in the present moment.
My love or obsession with tea started with I was a teen. Then I drank Lipton Orange Pekoe in a chipped ceramic mug with a spoonful of sugar and splash of milk at our formica kitchen table. With my tea, I always ate a slice of white toast slathered with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon. Who knew decades later I would be drinking it in the very same way yet in a dainty floral cup accompanied by raisin scones on the balcony of our London flat?
During the years in between and after, I branched out and sampled a plethora of teas and learned the best ways to brew them. Tea Forte’s Green Mango Peach tea should be brewed at 175 degrees for 2-3 minutes. Black teas such as the Harney classic Irish Breakfast tastes best when steeped in boiling water for 5 minutes. And brewing a White tea like Mighty Leaf’s White Orchid, one should use water that is heated just short of 212 degrees and steeped for 3 minutes. The result? Blissful perfection!
What began as an easy enjoyment of a hot beverage has become a mindful ritual. A sensory experience really. Beginning with subtle sounds of the water bubbling and gurgling in the kettle on the stove, to seeing the steam rise from its spout. Then the distinct whistle notifying me it’s time to pour. Hearing the tinkling sounds of my cup being filled, to seeing the tea bag inside change the water’s color, I am fully present. Soon after I enjoy the herbal aroma and then finally there’s the taste I anticipate as I take my first sip. Warmth like a blanket spreading over me, I savor sip after sip.
Just like anything else, when you discover something you love, you want to share it with others. Among my most memorable high tea events was one with my brother-in-law and his girlfriend at the Ritz in London. Another time, it was an afternoon spent with friends at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC. And most recently it was a late morning get together with one of my best friends, Nina at a local place called the Tranquility Room. That name really says it all.
My journal entry February 16, 2020, Thousand Oaks, California.
“Nina came up for our Girls Out Tea Day…our hats matched our outfits! Had so much fun…delicious tea and sandwiches…not to mention the best company!”
Any time is the perfect time for a cup of tea. The relaxation it brings me is essential to my well-being. And when sharing this experience with others, the simple act of drinking tea somehow becomes even more pleasing.