Dogs and tea have long been two of my favorite things. But until recently, I had not given much thought to how similar they are, at least in the areas that count. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. A dog is an animal, a mammal with four legs that walks and barks and pees and the Camellia sinensis is a plant that doesn’t walk or bark or pee. OK, granted, it may seem a bit far-fetched at first glance, but stay with me and I think you’ll agree that dogs and tea are amazingly similar.
Let’s start with their health benefits for humans. As most dog and tea lovers can attest, both dogs and tea add years to our lives. A study at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that stockbrokers with hypertension (high blood pressure) who adopted a dog had lower blood pressure readings than those who didn’t. And in their Tea to Your Health brochure, the Tea Council of the U.S.A., Inc., notes that drinking tea is associated with a reduced risk for hypertension. So whether you are petting your dog or sipping a cup of tea, you are clearly doing something to improve your health.
If you are like me, there are undoubtedly times when you feel as though you are moving 100 miles a minute in five different directions. Try to concentrate on any one task in that state of mind, and you are likely to fail. Here is where both dogs and tea can help. Both force you to slow down and live in the moment. For dogs, there is no such thing as contemplating past events or agonizing over the future; they live in the present. What is going on right now is what they care about. And when they are taking a walk with you, they aren’t thinking about all the work that awaits them once they return home. If the grazing is good on the lawns along the way or there are plenty of smells to appreciate, that is all that matters. And because you are with them, you, too, become a creature of the moment. Tea accomplishes the same thing, without the poop bags. Steeping a good cup of tea requires you to slow down and pay attention. It begins with deciding which tea to steep. Are you in the mood for a Darjeeling Second Flush, a Pai Mu Tan, an Earl Grey, a Lapsang Souchong, or a classic Gunpowder? Then you must assemble your tools…a cup, a teapot, a measuring spoon, a filter, and a timer (and maybe even a thermometer). And you know what they say…a watched pot never boils. You must be patient because there is no choice and patience allows you to slow down, take a deep breath, and enjoy the moment.
Dogs, like tea, come in an endless variety. Big dogs, small dogs, herding dogs, lap dogs…I could go on and on. And tea too is an amazingly diverse beverage…the blacks, the Oolongs, the greens, the whites, and the Pu-ehrs, not to mention the tisanes! Both dogs and tea also have purebred and mutt varieties. For dogs, the mutts are the mixed breeds; for tea, the mutts are the wide assortment of specialty teas flavored with fruits, nuts, herbs, and spices. And in both cases, it is thanks to us humans that the variety is as enormous as it is.
Finally, it is through both dogs and tea that we have the privilege of experiencing unconditional love. Dogs give it naturally. And one of the ways we express it is through the act of preparing tea, whether for ourselves or others.
So enjoy your dogs (or your cats, birds, and other family pets) and your tea. As you can see, they are more similar than you think.