“There are few hours in life more agreeable, than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea” – From ‘The Portrait of a Lady’, Henry James.
I love this emerging desire for people in 2018 to trade in their desperately busy schedules for more time devoted to self care and stress-free living. The principles and practice of slow and mindful living can manifest and permeate throughout every crevice of our lives, and the health benefits of taking time to slow down, rest and nourish oneself are priceless. Of course, we all need to hustle in some form or another, make a living and produce some kind of tangible, sellable good – but at what cost? When does the hustle overtake the need of the body rest and decompress? I think it’s when the need of the tangible, incoming proceeds seemingly appear to outweigh the physical cost to the body (which is usually really delayed). The body is designed to survive, to take on a tremendous amount of stress and burden, hustle and demand (collectively called Allostatic Load), without breaking down too much all at once. It’s the collective load that causes the greatest burden, and that’s where the grounding magic of rituals come to the rescue.
Daily rituals for me always (and I mean always) keep their place. This is the grounding magic that keeps my day balanced and sustained. My ultimate favorite, twice daily ritual is my tea ritual that I make time and space for every single day. When I feel like I don’t have time for this is in my day, I know something needs to change ASAP. It’s the daily practice of preparing and drinking tea that reminds me – life can slow down, and we can sit together for a while. Every afternoon, around midday, I prepare a mug (or french press) of tea to sit and drink while at work, or while at lunch, or even while sorting through the tiny things on my to-do list. My office carries the aroma of the herbs, my sitting space feels more inviting with tea at the table, and my senses are completely heightened from the tastes, smell, and feeling of that warm liquid coursing through my body. It’s truly a euphoric break, to close my eyes and nourish my body in this simple way. In the evening, I’ll often prepare another warm cup of sleepy tea to maneuver my body into the rhythms of sleep and dreams. I love sleeping (and I love dreaming), and the magic of evening tea rituals are legit medicine.
Afternoon tea is ritual often forgotten for most. It’s not popular in America (and every time I see tea in a to-go cup I get a little sad). But imagine the charm of taking time for afternoon tea again. To sit with yourself at your office or at home with you own personal concoction or beloved steep of boxed up Earl Gray. Imagine the sweetness of having friends over for tea like Mr. Tumnus. It’s so simple, and so cordially ideal for communing with your present thoughts, or exchanging personal conversation. All you need is some time, your favorite mug, and your favorite brew.
Developing your ritual:
Go on a hunt for your ideal tea mug. This is the most influential part of the theme of your magical tea ritual. Be it China, ceramic, cob – it should reflect you at your most magical and inspired self.
Select your tea, and keep it in a special, visually appealing little nook.
Make sure you know how to prepare it well for maximum enjoyment (and there are lots of variations around this). For example, most herbal teas need to steep for about 7-10 minutes, while some green teas only need about 3 minutes in just warm water. Some rooty teas need to be decocted in water, while some matcha teas require whisking and froth.
Make your time. Create a space for this ritual – for blending the tea, for steeping, smelling, stirring, preparing. The water extraction is so magical when the medicines are transferred from herb to water and then into your own active, living being. Enjoy the process, and make space for it. Don’t put a time restraint on yourself – just sit, relax, and sip consciously.
If you want to elevate your knowledge of creating herbal blends for specific health issues, consider taking specialized courses in Herbal Medicine and Materials Medica to deepen your understanding of therapeutic herbalism.