Tea has taken me on a journey to many actual destinations but above all to a place of calm–quiet, restorative, relaxing and solitary. The mere act of taking time to brew a proper cup of tea from fresh, premium quality leaves calms me, centers me, focusing my attentions away from the stresses, intensities and din of the day that has come before. Instinctually being sure that the water temperature is just right for the tea being brewed and counting the minutes until the tea reaches its peak of extraction is the start of that journey away, erasing much of the quotidian reality of the day and leading me to a sanctuary, to a place away from the proverbial “all.” And after the perfect cup has been brewed, I sit down in a comfortable chair, inhale the aroma of the tea, feel the heat of the liquid radiating from the cup and then I am ready to embark on that journey, emptying my mind of thoughts that might shortcircuit the visual, olfactory and gustatory pleasure awaiting in the cup. man meditating

In my mind’s eye I then envision the verdant terraced slopes of the tea growing regions that I have visited and conjure up the earthy perfume of the tea manufacturing plants, but most of all remember vividly the warm smiles on the faces of all whom I have met over the years who are engaged in bringing the leaves which have infused the liquid in my cup, from faraway garden to local vendors’ shelves. When I think about the generous and thoughtful tea estate managers, the accommodating members of their households in the tea country where I have been hosted (“Bed tea, sir?” was often the last question before I retired for the night) and the beautifully radiant faces of colorfully-garbed sure handed tea pluckers, I sigh gratefully, sipping tentatively at first, and then imbibing a bit more quickly while the fragrant liquid is still hot until the cup is drained. I can then look forward to repeating the same ritual the next day or later that same day, energized but not at all jittery, expectant of where the next cup of tea may take me.

Robert Wemischner is a chef, business consultant, and tea aficionado.

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