SWATHED IN TEA

 Left to Right: CAP Matcha, TWG Oud Night, Laduree Thé Roi Soleil, Lapsong Souchong

Left to Right: CAP Matcha, TWG Oud Night, Laduree Thé Roi Soleil, Lapsong Souchong

There was not one day that has gone by in my life, where I haven’t been completely and totally enraptured and enamoured by tea. I kind of wish I was kidding.

What fascinates me is that throughout my life, though of course I’ve expanded and grown, there are little tendencies of mine that remain the same. Through the course of time I’ve realised at the core of me, I’m the same. Endlessly growing, in no way stagnated but with loves that span a lifetime.

My delight in tea spans the nuances of each flavour profile, the nuttiness, grass notes, the umami, sea-like green of a Gyokuru or Sencha - an endless ocean of emerald green swilling, lapping at the lips of the cup. The tannin rich Oolongs, or fragrant White Teas. The total immersion in the olfactory notes, smokey, sweet with the warmth it provides, from our fingertips to its golden ambrosia-like honey...down the hatch. I’m perpetually in awe of how something so simple, like the unfurling of a carefully, delicately grown, picked and steamed leaf can imbue such a gentle  mindfulness, permeating each sip. An innocent awareness, with no expectation but the visceral experience of the now. I am no stranger to the all monkey-mind, but in these gentle moments my endlessly whirring brain was able to settle every time tea entered the picture. It was almost innate.

When I was little, I didn’t necessarily know this practice for what it was and perhaps my family didn’t realise it would turn into a full blown mindful, mildy obsessive practice as it did. But I adored it. It was only recently that I fully comprehended that this adoration began so innocently, and so young.

My very milk-tea, English Breakfast drinking family would have a cupboard brimming with black tea. There was never a moment when a hand wasn’t wrapped through the handle of a mug. In the height of an Australian 38C day or not, tea is a constant. But, the tea bags would frequently go walk-a-bout. When we’d take the inventory we were going through these things like smoke. At this moment in time I was maybe 4 or 5, sharing a bunk-bed with my sister. I was the bottom bunk, of course, because younger siblings are always relegated to the bottom. I used to hang sheets from the top bunk, for a very opulent canopy-esque experience. I wanted luxury. The moment of tea-bag truth came when my mum happened to be removing my design feature, and what was revealed was a chandelier of tea bags, that had been delicately strung from the slats of the bed above, there was black teas, vanilla tea, green teas, herbal teas all emitting their unique aromas, contained within the bounds of my little bed. Upon further inspection it was evident that I had stuffed them also in my pillowcase, so I could fall asleep to the perfume of leaves. Whilst, we tell the story as a funny familial joke - at the crux of this story is how innate this experience came, perhaps the smells were as healing as the teas themselves and in my little body I could feel the energetics of such a profound plant. It felt like serenity, it felt like healing and I wanted to be swathed in it.

Tea gives us a permission to exhale, universally its an out-breath for humans. Weather it be a black tea with milk and one, or a rare harvest in ceremony. That stillness is an experience of gentle luxury, where the practice of boiling, steeping and pouring is the entirety of your existence. Tea gives us unbridled permission to be truly still, it invites us to marvel at the colours that nature offers us, it begs us to hold its nectar within our mouths until each infinitesimal note hits your tongue and you experience the wisdom and sublimity of nature in that sip.

My mum has always taught me to “look at the signs we’ve placed on the road for us to see” and my life has been littered with these idiosyncrasies that in hindsight were an indication of who I was, what it was that I adored and how I wanted to live. It may seem silly, weird or perhaps irreleveant but my love for tea has only grown - as my cupboard too overflows with the wonder of camellia sinensis allowing me to consciously unwind and unfurl, just like the leaves.

 

HOW TO BE MINDFUL WITH TEA:

 

Thict Naht Hanh said;

“You must be completely awake in the present to enjoy the tea.
Only in the awareness of the present, can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup.
Only in the present, can you savor the aroma, taste the sweetness, appreciate the delicacy.
If you are ruminating about the past, or worrying about the
future, you will completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of
tea.
You will look down at the cup, and the tea will be gone.
Life is like that.
If you are not fully present, you will look around and it will be gone.
You will have missed the feel, the aroma, the delicacy and beauty of life.
It will seem to be speeding past you. The past is finished.
Learn from it and let it go.
The future is not even here yet. Plan for it, but do not waste your time worrying about it.
Worrying is worthless.
When you stop ruminating about what has already happened, when
you stop worrying about what might never happen, then you will be in the
present moment.
Then you will begin to experience joy in life
.”