"When I drink tea, there is only me, and the tea. The rest of the world dissolves. There are no worries about the future. No dwelling on past mistakes. Tea is simple: Loose-leaf tea, hot pure water, a cup. I inhale the scent, tiny delicate pieces of the tea floating above the cup. I drink the tea, the essence of the leaves becoming a part of me. I am informed by the tea, changed. This is the act of life, in one pure moment, and in this act the truth of the world suddenly becomes revealed; all the complexity, pain, drama of life is a pretense, invented in our minds for no good purpose. There is only the tea, and me, converging." –Thich Nhat Hanh
There’s something about tea that’s just so darn relaxing. Scooping out leaves, listening to the water boil, sipping from the cup: one slowly finds themselves immersed in a pleasant ritual.
The mindful experience that comes with preparing and drinking tea makes it an excellent opportunity for meditation. When we sit with our cups and let ourselves be still, we experience life as it was meant to be experienced: with a sense of acceptance and present-mindedness. It is no wonder that tea is such an important part of Buddhist culture.
You needn’t be an ordained monk to enjoy the mindful benefits of tea. All you need is about fifteen minutes (and of course, a nice flavor of tea).
Choose a cup and flavor of tea that are both to your liking!
Boil the water. While it’s heating, resist the urge to putter around the house or hang out on your phone. Instead, simply be there next to the kettle and use this time to ease into a calmer state of mind. If you like, you can practice taking deep breaths in and out.
Once the water is ready, prepare your tea. Depending on your selection, this could mean plopping in a tea bag or measuring out leaves. Whatever prep your tea requires, do it deliberately and slowly. Pour the water carefully, measure the tea leaves lovingly. Revel in the sounds, the sights, and the motions.
Next, choose a pleasant place to sit. Try next to a window or on a nice soft cushion. Think of this spot as your own special tea-drinking area (even if only for the next fifteen minutes). Remove distractions and get comfy!
Before you begin drinking your tea, look at it. Hold the cup in both hands, and feel the tea’s steam. Breathe in its delicious aromas and notice its color. Think of the hands that grew and picked the tea and give silent thanks for all those that made your tea possible.
Sip your tea. Or as Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Drink your tea slowly and reverently.” With each sip, be sure to savor its flavors. Notice whether it tastes bitter or sweet. After each sip, take a moment to pause and feel the cup in your hands. Let yourself be in this moment. As you sit, think of only the tea before you and your comfy chair.
When your tea is all gone, give thanks one more time. This gesture of gratitude is not only for the delicious tea, but the peaceful moment you’ve just had.