Imagine a world without tea. I can’t. What is more satisfying, more relaxing, more filled with wellbeing, than easing yourself in to a comfortable chair and lifting a cup of tea to your lips? I do it at least twice a day and I can’t imagine a day without it.
I wonder if Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese princess who married Charles the second, knew what she was really giving us when she inspired a nation with her love for the drink. If you lived in the days when radios were called wirelesses you’ll remember they even named a tea after her – Braganza tea, remember? I think it was packed in a red and yellow packet. Not sure when it disappeared from our shelves. But let me get on with what I want to say.
Yesterday I watched a program on the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Quite something, a bit long winded, but so civilized, so calming, so mindful and purposeful giving this marvellous beverage the recognition and worth it so richly deserves.
I must say that as I watched I felt quite the barbarian. I couldn’t help but compare it to my own tea-making. I just plunge my hand in to the cannister and unthinkingly whip out a tea bag, pop it in to my cup, pour water on it, squeeze the hell out of the bag with a teaspoon until it’s so strong it strips the paint off the wall, add some milk, and walla, tea! Then, and only then, does the pace change and the mind go in to a different gear; I slowly and purposefully relax in to that chair I spoke of, and bring the cup to my lips and mindfully savour and drink the contents. What a contrast! It’s as if there’s this enormous contradiction of attitude between my preparation of the tea and my drinking it. The one just doesn’t flow in to the other. The two don’t become one.
So, I’ve decided to become far more mindful, civilized and purposeful in my preparation of tea and to gently ease the ritual of preparation in to the ritual of drinking. Exactly how I’m going to do this, I don’t know, but I’m certainly going to try.
Isn’t it amazing what watching a Japanese Tea Ceremony can do to you.