Guest Contribution by Indiana Lee
Brewing a cup of tea is often viewed as a simple act – one that we often do for ourselves, by ourselves. When the weather is cold or when we’re sick, tea is a delicious, cozy drink that offers an abundance of comfort and warmth. However, tea carries more significance than many people realize, including tea drinkers themselves.
Across cultures and generations, people have been using tea as a family tradition. Embracing the many rituals and long history behind tea is an opportunity for you to connect to your current family, your ancestors, and your unique culture.
Using Tea For Familial Bonding
Even in our fast-paced world, tea time allows your family to slow down. Sitting down for tea — whether it’s on weekend afternoons or after everyone’s home from work and school — can inspire your family members to put their phones down and focus on the delightful drinks, snacks, and conversation ahead of them. You can take this special time to listen to your family members, share stories, and strengthen your connections. Children can gain a safe space to open up about their lives.
The act of sharing a teapot alone can be symbolic of the close-knit family culture you want to create. By pouring from a single teapot, you can demonstrate and manifest the unyielding bond between family members, all while they converse.
Integrating elements of Chinese tea culture — in which children typically pour tea for elders first — into your family traditions can also help children develop a sense of respect, trust, and love for their parents, grandparents, and more.
Exploring Culture Through Tea
Throughout history, many cultures have embraced unique rituals surrounding tea. For instance, in Japan, traditional tea ceremonies involve symbolic acts — which may include the washing of hands and the meticulous folding of a silk cloth — while Russians serve highly concentrated tea (called zavarka) from a tea urn (called a samovar). Following these traditional practices, whether on a regular basis or on special occasions, allows your family to connect with your culture.
Embracing rituals or, at the least, traditional teas can be especially important in multicultural families. When you honor all the cultures that make up your family, you can form a stronger connection to your familial identity. Once you’ve experienced the traditions of each culture, you can consider combining or creating new rituals that integrate each family member’s most beloved aspects of culture and heritage.
Creating an Inclusive Family Dynamic
When people join your family well after birth — whether it’s through marriage, adoption, or something else — it can be difficult to blend into an already tight-knit group. However, inviting your newest family members to tea time can help you create a welcoming, comforting environment that shows them that you care. The act of sharing tea can be a beautiful display of hospitality toward in-laws, adopted children, and even beloved friends who have become like family.
Tea is also a versatile drink that can include pretty much any loved one. You can serve herbal teas — such as chamomile, rooibos tea, or ginger tea — for caffeine-sensitive family members or serve creamers and sweeteners for those who want something extra. Thanks to the availability of video conferencing apps, you can even let family members call into tea time with their brew of choice.
Identifying With a Larger Community
Developing strong bonds is a core part of building a healthy family. However, when your family members only feel connected to each other, your home life can feel incredibly isolating. Families are at their healthiest when they can quickly bond with and see themselves in other families.
Implementing tea as a family tradition can help your family feel like part of a broader community. Much like families in the U.S. connect over their celebration of Thanksgiving, your loved ones can identify with the many families around the world that practice tea time or hold tea rituals — even those from completely different cultures from our own.
Experience the Power of Tea
Tea is a traditional drink that has held great significance in global families for centuries. When you start drinking tea with your family on a regular basis — whether it’s every day, every week, during large family gatherings, or on special holidays — you can create a dedicated time to bond with your loved ones. Sharing tea is also a great way to welcome new family members, including in-laws and adoptees, with open arms.
If you want to connect with your culture, ancestors, and other families in your community or ethnic group, honoring traditional rituals surrounding tea is a great start. Rituals allow your family to take part in a practice that’s existed for years and teach your kids about where they come from — especially if they’re in a multicultural family, in which every aspect of their background should be celebrated.