From Alisa, Curator of Tea Happiness at myteabox.ca
In recent years in my life, I have followed a personal curiosity regarding mindfulness and meditation practices. And you know what I’ve discovered? Tea can be a great aid for that!
When I say “mindfulness practice,” you may already know what I’m referring to, if, for example, you have developed a regular yoga habit, or use one of the many great apps out there for guided meditation. Or perhaps you’ve experienced mindfulness another way — if so, I’d love to her about it!
Or maybe you’ve heard a lot of these buzz words, and aren’t sure what to think or where to begin.
Well, wherever you’re at, this invitation is for you!
I’ve put together a type of instructional, specifically for the tea lover.
Keep in mind that for this happy moment, you will want to set aside a bit of time. I’d estimate about ten minutes, but of course you can always make it longer, if you want.
I’m placing the guide below. You might want to do a quick read-through now, to know a bit of what to expect, and what materials you’ll need, and then set a time; may I suggest tomorrow morning? (it’s a lovely first-thing-of-the-day practice). Of course, if you have some free time right now, then why not go for it!
For you, my friend…
A Mindful Approach to Tea
One of the joys of loose leaf tea is the multi-sensory experience it provides. What you are going to do in the next few minutes can be seen as a type of mindfulness exercise. It helps to bring your attention to very simple things, like colour, sounds, and movement. By intentionally focusing on simple things, you give your mind a break from the concerns or complex thoughts that we typically have to deal with from day to day. Some have found this type of exercise to help improve anxiety, as it calms the mind. What better way to start the day?
You will need the following things:
- Some loose tea. An oolong or full leaf green tea perform beautifully. I’d suggest the Bright Eyes cucumber melon green tea in this month’s teabox, or the Goji Berry Oolong blend from a recent teabox. But any loose tea will do; maybe break out your favourite!
- A mug or cup. If you have a clear mug or cup, go ahead and find that one for this practice, so that you can see the tea more clearly and from different angles.
- A strainer. We won’t be using a typical infuser for this, as we want to place the tea leaves loosely in the hot water. After the tea steeps, you may wish to strain it from the leaves. This depends on the variety (some types can stay steeping, so you don’t need to remove the leaves), and on your style (some people like to leave the leaves in the cup and strain them with their lips as they drink, and some people prefer a strong-flavoured tea).
- A spoon for measuring your loose tea.
- A kettle with filtered water.
All set? Let’s begin.
Take out your mug, strainer, spoon, kettle, and tea. Notice the sound that each item makes as you lay it on your counter or tabletop. What does the tea package sound like as you open it? Go ahead and measure out the tea for your brew. What does it sound like as you drop it from your spoon into the cup?
Perhaps you’ve already noticed a fragrance coming from the tea. Did it greet you when you opened the package? If you waft the cup with the loose tea in front of your face, can you sense the smell? Does it change as you bring the cup closer to your nose? Try to think of how many different smells you can identify. What kinds are they? Are there savory, sweet, tangy, earthy, or fruity smells?
Go ahead and set your kettle to heat the water you need for this steeping. Before it heats up (Careful! Don’t get burned), place your hands carefully on its side. Notice the temperature increasing as the water heats, warming your hands (of course be sure to remove them once the kettle gets too warm). Now place your hands around your cup (without the water in it), and feel how it is cooler than the kettle, but your hands are transferring some of the heat.
Once the kettle reaches the appropriate temp for your brew (follow package instructions for the tea you are making), very carefully and slowly, slowly pour the water into your cup. Observe how it reaches the tea at the bottom and disturbs it, causing it to swirl. Watch it rise as the water level increases. Once the cup is full, place the kettle down, and continue watching the tea leaves. It’s best if you can place the cup at eye-level. Notice how the leaves remain tight and small at first, and how it takes time for them to absorb the heated water and to slowly uncurl and swell up. Watch how they mingle with each other. Are there any colour changes? Are there other elements, such as flower petals or fruit bits? How do they behave? Do some pieces float and others sink?
While the tea continues to steep according the package instructions, revisit the different sensations. Does the tea make any sound as it steeps? How does it smell now? Can you feel the warmth from the steam on your face, as you lean in to take a closer look?
Of course, this sensation is well associated with tea. Once the brew is finished, carefully use your strainer to strain the leaves (or leave them, depending on the variety), and, once the tea reaches a comfortable temperature, have a sip. Try taking in a small amount of liquid and slurping it across your tongue with an inhale; notice that taste, and notice if it changes when you let the liquid simply rest in your mouth. Now, as you swallow, what does that sensation feel like? When you slightly open your mouth again, what tastes do you perceive are lingering? When you take a second sip, is it different than the first?
Stay in this moment for as long as you like. Try closing your eyes, and seeing if the smells or tastes feel different when you do that. Maybe spend a few moments revisiting each sensation, and sensing which parts of your body are affected right now: the flavours in your mouth, the warmth in your hands, your position on your feet or seat. Listen to your breathing, and feel your chest expand and settle with each inbreath and outbreath.
As this practice draws to a close, turn your mind to gratitude. Be thankful for the stillness of this moment. Relish the simplicity of joy. Smile, and hold the smile for a good while, feeling it not only on your face but as if coming from a very deep part of you. Smile as if to the world, but also to yourself, and thank yourself for being here. As you enjoy one more sip of the tea, know that it is good and useful for your health, just as this time has been. Give thanks for the good things in this moment.
If you practice this exercise, I’d love to know how it was for you. Please let me know what you think!
I am wishing you and yours a beautiful 2020
Curator of Tea Happiness at myteabox.ca