Detox, renew, relax, dream
I’m in the supermarket, browsing shelves of tea.
There is a bewildering array of brands and varieties. When I was a girl, only black tea leaves from India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) were available. Teabags hadn’t reached our shores, green tea was unheard of, and herbal teas with healing properties would have been regarded with a strong dose of Aussie suspicion. But now, here I am having to decide whether I want a tea that will relax, renew, or detox me, zing or zest me, attack my fat cells or put me to sleep.
Hmm. Here’s one that will calm my body, another that will inspire my mind, and yet another that will invigorate my senses. Do I need all these things done to me? Will I only make it through the day if I consume a combination of hot water and dead, dried leaves or flowers at regular intervals? These tea companies seem to think I need their help every hour of the day.
I choose a packet of old-fashioned black loose-leaf tea, take it home, boil the kettle, get out my one and only teacup and saucer, and a glass teapot. I preheat the teapot and cup, just like my mother taught me, then brew the tea. I like it weak, so it turns out looking like dirty dishwater rather than the rich mahogany brew my mother and grandmother used to drink until their innards were drowning in the stuff.
I sit down and look out the window. Then I fill the pretty cup with tea and take a sip. Ahh! That feels good. The cup warms my hands, steam tickles my nose, and the slightly bitter liquid trickles soothingly down my throat.
According to the experts, drinking this cup of black tea might boost my heart and gut health, and might even have the power to reduce my rising blood pressure and sugar levels. It might do these things, but one thing it certainly does – and there’s no might about it – it makes me pause in the rush of my life. I find myself sinking into the moment, being peaceful and still.
Part of my work involves visiting couples I’ve never met before. I’m visiting because one of them has some form of dementia. They welcome me into their home to discuss this confronting topic, and invariably offer me a cup of tea. The mutual sipping of tea that follows calms, unifies and equalizes us. In our shared activity of drinking tea is an unspoken acknowledgment that we are in this situation together, we’re three human beings linked for a purpose, and we will help each other through this life event.
The intention of the Japanese ceremonial tradition of preparing and drinking tea is to help guests take a step back from everyday life and experience tranquility and simplicity. Choosing this way of having a cup of tea makes it a reminder of a better way of living. The constant rush of achievement will ultimately have no meaning, whereas a cup of tea peacefully imbibed, alone or with friends, can balance us, and reacquaint us with ourselves, our deeper being.
So next week, when I once again tackle the tricky task of selecting a packet of tea, I won’t get caught up in all the promises of what they will do for me. I’ll just pick a packet - any packet - and take it home, knowing that it will provide a doorway into mindfulness, into presence, into awareness, into unity with everyone, with every sip I consciously take.
I hope you enjoy your next cup of tea as much as I will mine.
With love, Marlane