There is something deeply calming about the rituals. I am not referring to any extravagant ones but the small ones, the ones that fit into our daily lives. For some it could be the elaborate end-of-the-day shower, for someone else, it could be the process of rearranging their book-shelf. As a tea lover, for me, it is the ritual of making, and having, tea.
It is a simple enough process, but rituals slow us down and make us really be present. Rituals such as these momentarily make us suspend our thoughts and worries, and let us simply be. We enter into a state where we’re not constantly thinking, and are aware of only the task at hand. Considering the busy pace of modern day life, my tea time ritual is now even more precious. For a few minutes a day, I’m not rushing through my day, ticking off items on my to-do list. For a few minutes a day, I’m simply savouring beauty – and what is Life if not about experiencing beauty?
I read somewhere that this is called ‘being mindful’, being mindful of the task, of being fully aware of every movement you make, of everything you see and everything you do. Being mindful of the present.
I store my tea in air tight, tin caddies (no plastic Tupperware for me!) and love the whiff I catch upon opening the cupboard where I store them. I choose my tea, depending on my mood and add some to my favourite white cup. I love watching the leaves unfurl when I pour in the boiling water, and the changing colours of the water. Depending on the tea I’m having, I may add some honey or lemon. I love the aroma rising up to fill my nose, as I walk with my tea cup to my favourite spot by the window. Ah, and then that first sip! An intense and beautifully layered series of flavours. For a few minutes, that’s all I do, quietly sit and sip on my tea. All good teas have four main elements: aroma, taste, aftertaste, and body. I enjoy detecting the various nuances in my tea. A truly good tea awakens the senses and this can be felt physically! Perhaps this is why it is so easy for me to tune out everything else, and just focus on the sensation.
The beauty of this ritual for me is that it is flexible. I love my solo tea time, but I enjoy a cup with some great conversation too. Tea can be a wonderful facilitator and indeed some of the best friendships I’ve had have had tea as a starting point. An ex-colleague and I discovered our mutual love for the beverage and spent countless post-work evenings exploring as many cafes as we could. We shared laughter and stories over several cups of tea, and while we no longer work together, we remain close friends.
I discovered an interesting project recently, which perhaps is born from the same thought process. ‘A Tea With 10.000 People’ is one man’s quest to travel the world and meet 10,000 people and share a conversation over tea. Of course, the journey has evolved and the beverage varies – not everyone drinks tea (the horror!!) – but it’s beautiful and inspiring to see nonetheless. Dogus Kokartti has been hitchhiking across the world, and documenting his travels and of course, the teas with the people he meets! It’s a wonderful journey and you can follow it here:
If Dogus stops by in my city, I’ll certainly meet him for tea and a chat! In the meanwhile, it’s time for my tea ritual. I’m brewing myself a pot of Glendale Oolong and watching the rain from window.
Author: Medha Kulkarni
Medha Kulkarni is a writer and illustrator based out of Germany. You can see more of her work here.