How do you take your tea?
Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? If dropping a teabag into a mug of boiling water is your morning or afternoon routine, would you take a moment or two longer to turn that practice into something much more special?
The “way of tea” and “taking tea,” as well as the making of tea, was elevated into a form of art in many cultures. Rituals were created as a way to celebrate tea in such style that it became a way to celebrate life: the simple and sometimes mundane things, as well as the significant, and spiritual aspects of life. It also could have been the other way around — in celebrating life with tea — it became a celebration of the tea, too!
Yes, all of that with a cup of tea!
Every aspect of that cup of tea was (and still is) taken into consideration. Everything from the freshness of the water to make the tea and how it would be heated to the precise temperature that would release the best qualities of the precious leaves, to the utensils to store, handle, and present the tea. Including, the container in which to steep the leaves, the setting to serve the tea, the vessel to receive the infusion, and to whom the beverage was offered, as well as who was preparing the cherished liquid and their state of mind.
Everything that it took to grow the leaves was reflected upon ceremonially, as well: from the planting of the seeds or seedlings to the soil, sunlight, rain, nutrients, and maintenance. All the effort by the many it took to hand-pluck the leaves, transport, whither, dry, roll, process, package, ship, and sell, indeed became something to celebrate.
Sadly, for most North Americans, all of the above goes unnoticed, unappreciated, and unaware. Just as we mindlessly gulp other concoctions oblivious to their contents, purchase foods prepared in substandard and inhumane conditions, consume deadly toxins added to food products, etc., etc., it is time to wake up!
Truthfully, it’s long overdue. When we start paying attention to our bodies, our minds, our health, our emotions, our relationships, our careers, our planet, our practices, as well as our path and purpose in this life — then everything we do, think, drink, eat, and see, becomes a spiritual occurrence.
Every awakening is something to celebrate. Every moment we take to reflect, to appreciate, to be in awe, to practice humility and compassion, turns our lives into sacred events.
To be in a place of choice — puts us in control of our lives. To be in a place of oneness with everything around us — connects us to everything beyond us.
When we can take something that appears to be straightforward — such as sipping a cup of tea — and turn it into something of significance — we are on our way to enlightenment — or at the very least, to wholeness.
Waking up is attentiveness to everything and everyone. We don’t have to understand all the workings and mysteries of the universe — we only have to put ourselves in a place of calm and openness to receive balance.
Yes, it can be done with a cup of tea.
It has been done with tea for millennia. Your own tea rituals need not be based on the intricacies and practices of other rituals from around the globe. Although they are time-consuming, they are fascinating to learn — but you have the power to create your own rituals with tea. Awareness and mindfulness are always a good start. Just as prayer or when we bless our food before a meal — oh, you don’t do that anymore? The few seconds it takes to bless our food is the beginning of being mindful and grateful for all we have — for what we put into our bodies and the state of our minds as we bring the food and drink into our bodies.
Reverence is the foundation of all rituals — awareness, acknowledgment, and appreciation of every sip, every breath, every heartbeat, every person, and every thing. For the entire time it takes to sip a cup of tea, mindfully and gratefully — you are the ruler of your universe — that’s how to take tea!
And, by gosh, that makes the tea taste so gooooood!
Photo “jamie cullum:it’s about time” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License to the photographer Lali Masriera and is being posted unaltered (source)
Thanks for the important reminder that establishing a tea ritual can have a wonderful impact on all of us. It needn’t be long or drawn out – a simple mindfull moment to appreciate and experience this remarkable drink.