We lead such hectic lives these days, and it seems like we never have time to stop and “smell the roses,” so to speak. I had an experience yesterday that made me curious as to which part of the tea ritual has the ability to get us to stop and be fully in the present, even if just for a moment.

I am currently traveling on the east coast for business. Michelle and I have been rushing around all week going from one meeting to another. We barely have time to catch our breaths just long enough before collapsing into our beds at night, feeling totally exhausted.

On one of the evenings after a meeting and other related errands during the day, we stopped by to visit a contributor to our website who lives in Manhattan. Soon after arriving, they offered us tea, which we enthusiastically welcomed. It was a sencha that our kind host had brought back from her trip to Japan.

After the tea was poured, I held the pot, removed the lid, stuck my big nose into the opening and inhaled deeply several times. It was heavenly! During those few moments of inhaling the aroma of the tea leaves, I was forcefully catapulted back to the present. I realized, after the fact and upon further reflection, that of all the different aspects of my tea ritual, for me, nothing seems to remove me from the frenetic pace of the day and bring me more powerfully into the present than the fragrance of tea. At times it can be the visual beauty of the dry leaves or the ballet of the bubbles in the pot. And certainly, the delicious taste of the tea does it often as well. But as I reflect back, I realize that nothing else brings me so quickly, so powerfully and so consistently into the present, blocking out all other stimuli from my environment, like the aroma of tea can. No matter what I may be doing or where my head may be at the time, it’s always that first scent of tea that brings me back to the here and now.

What I would like to know from the community is what does it for you? What aspect of your tea ritual ushers you most powerfully and most consistently back to the present?