This article has been updated from the original 2006 publication.

Tea is more than just a beverage. It is an experience. Sitting down to drink a cup of tea grants us permission to slow down. Slowing down is a powerful statement in our lives today. Did you know that just slowing down can reduce stress, improve physical health, heighten awareness, promote peace of mind and improve one’s ability to stay focused?

woman drinking japanese style tea

Its inherent qualities keep us alert in mind and yet relaxed in body. Holding a cup of tea we feel its warmth in our hands; we inhale its fragrance, appreciate the color, and taste it as we sip slowly.

Tea embodies solitude and time for quieting the mind; a time for slowness, introspection, and contemplation; a time to look within and get to know oneself and one’s world; a time for remembering all of the Zen monks, Taoist sages, and tea masters who have guided our way to “being” rather than “doing.” Tea encapsulates hospitality, sociability, and the opening of our hearts and homes to share a cup of tea with a friend or an unexpected guest.

Tea is an experience that can help us relax

Tea relaxes us and loosens our tongue, allowing our natural generosity and good nature to come forth. Finally, tea symbolizes sensitivity, inviting us to become aware of all our senses. It draws us in to notice its aroma, the sounds and touch of water, and the magnificent color of its liquor. As we learn to awaken our senses and to understand the spirit of tea at its essence, we can fully experience the wholeness and interconnectedness of all life.

pouring tea into teacup

Tea is an experience we share with others

Learning to be a gracious host or hostess is essential to creating an aura of hospitality. In order to make your tea-time visit a meaningful occasion that you and your guest will both enjoy and prosper from, there are some common tea themes that can be incorporated in your shared time together.

Praise of Others

Before getting together, think about whom you have invited over for tea. Take the time during the tea get-together to convey to others how you appreciate them. This can include sharing what you feel is special about them. You can communicate this appreciation verbally, through the written word, or through some action you take. When you know the other people well, you can let them know how you respect them, how you have learned something from them, and how they may have helped you or someone else.

Unexpected Guests as Divine Messengers

An ancient belief holds that everyone and everything come into our life for a reason. With that in mind, be spontaneous and open to the company of drop-in visitors by offering whatever tea and food you have. Be willing to discover how and why these unexpected guests have graced your life at this time. What is it that they bring to you, and you to them?

These are excerpts from the book,   Tea Here Now.  by Donna Fellman and Lhasha Tizer

Tea Here Now demonstrates how tea and the simple act of preparing a cup of tea can give drinkers a taste of enlightenment. Written for the average person who wishes to infuse accessible, uncomplicated spirituality and mindfulness into his or her tea drinking, the book explores the health benefits, spiritual practices, and lifestyle-enhancing properties associated with the world’s major blends, in the process creating a practical guidebook for the “tea lifestyle.”    

Amazon Description

More Tea as an experience articles on T Ching