The Art of Tea

I love tea. I drink all kinds of tea and thoroughly enjoy trying new kinds. I don’t much care for packaged tea like Bigelows or celestial brand, but if I’m desperate I will settle for them. Mostly I brew loose leaf teas I buy by the pound. Just like my mom, I love black tea (although I think she prefers only English Breakfast). What is so wonderful about tea is you can change flavors according to your mood. I might wake up and want an assam black tea, or have an afternoon tea of genmaicha, and end my day with some lavender/chamomile. I have always drank and preferred tea, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I began to appreciate loose leaf tea. My friend opened me up to the local tea shops and let me come with her for a tea tasting.

I recall living in San Francisco at the time and only two blocks from Clement Street (the real Chinatown), and there was a new tea shop that opened up. The shop was small and filled floor to ceiling with metal cannisters of loose tea. A large, custom built wooden tea table (gongfu table) was centered in the shop. It was a wooden tea bar, complete with its own sink, stools, and ready made hot water. I remember sitting on a stool and having the shop owner showcase his best teas in ceramic tea pots with matching tea cups. He described in detail the notes and accents of the tea as I sampled many varieties and blends. They all were so different and each had such unique and distinct flavors. I remember first trying Pu-erh tea and my first thought was “This tastes like Golden Gate Park.” Pu-erh just reminds me of foggy, dewy moss and moist dirt. While “dirt tea” doesn’t sound too tasty, it truly has a grounding and balancing effect.Pu-erh tea is often paired with goji berries (wolfberries) and chrysanthemum to provide it a lighter flavor.

Just a little factoid, pu-erh is fermented tea and considered to be a “black tea” in China. What we in the States and Europe refer to as “black tea” is actually oxidized tea rather than fermented, as it is sometimes mis-labeled. Learn more about pu-erh tea here. 

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I usually start my day with some matcha tea, mixed with raw honey, coconut milk and sometimes a dab of royal jelly. I buy the organic matcha tea powder which provides me all the pick me up I need in the mornings. Usually one cup is fine and I can brew some other blend that I fancy. Preparing my matcha tea is like a good morning ritual every morning. It’s the perfect way to set my intention for the day and show gratitude for yet another day. Finding enjoyment in the little miracles and blessings throughout your day can help change your perspective and outlook.

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I will leave you with this story my Reiki Teacher told me about a swimmer and the leaf.  At a river, there was a swimmer and leaf. Both had the objectives to get to the end of the river. The swimmer, being fit and competitive, swam in the river as fast as he could. He dodged rocks and currents, and ultimately got to the end of the stream first. The leaf on the other hand, took it’s time down the river. It enjoyed every minute of the adventure down the stream and was grateful for everything it encountered–the deer drinking water, the fish bobbing along, the pebbles in the river, etc. Although the leaf took longer to get to the end, the leaf saw all of the little miracles along the way and expressed it’s gratitude for the journey. Thus, my teacher said “Be the leaf” and enjoy all the little miracles you encounter each day. While taking time in your day for peace and silence isn’t necessarily a miracle, it will give you pause and help remind you to set your intention for gratitude.