Legend has it that tea was discovered when a few leaves blew from a tree and landed in the cup of the Chinese Emperor, Shennong. That was all the way back in 2737 B.C.! Tea has come a long way since then. Treasured by various cultures all over the world, tea is a beverage of comfort, hospitality, even refinement. But such a versatile drink also contains some veritable wisdom. We’ve brewed up some of the more pertinent lessons it can offer.

It’s All In How You Make It

One could say that there is no such thing as a bad cup of tea. There is only tea that hasn’t been prepared to your liking. Perhaps the tea’s water didn’t reach a boil, or the leaves sat for too long. Maybe there is not enough milk, or you put in too much sugar (or not enough!). In life, as with tea, satisfaction comes down to how you make it.

Steep, But Not For Too Long

Every tea has a steeping time. This is the total amount of minutes that the leaves should sit and brew in hot water. Steep for too little and you are left with weak tea: you miss out on all the potential flavors! But if you steep for too long, your drink becomes bitter. We may use the same sense of moderation in our daily lives. All of us encounter problems, obstacles, and major changes that require our attention and energy. How much we give of ourselves is key. If we don’t fully address anything and move on too quickly, we can miss out on major life lessons and opportunities. But if we soak in a problem for too long, we become dark and bitter. Timing is everything. Steep, but not for too long.

Take Time To Cool

Some of us want our tea right now! But this usually doesn’t bode well. Sip your tea too soon and you’ll get burned! Many have learned the hard way that it’s best to let tea cool first. But tea isn’t the only thing that benefits from deliberate pause. How often are we tempted to act impulsively? To act or speak without thinking?  As with tea, it never hurts to take a minute and allow things to cool before diving into hot water.

Ritual Over Rushing

A truly excellent cup of tea is prepared carefully and mindfully. Though this requires more time and attention, there are so many small pleasures to be had. When making tea, one can simply lose themselves in the smell of the leaves, the clack of porcelain cups, the hypnotic motions of pouring and stirring. This ritual is a lovely reminder of the contentment and peace we feel when we engage in slow, deliberate processes. It is no wonder that so many cultures devote special ceremonies to tea-making. How fulfilling it is to focus on ritual rather than rush to get an end result!

Self-Soothe When Possible

Many associate tea with relaxation and self-care. A spicy cup of ginger tea is perfect for a cold, as is chamomile to help you sleep. Tea may not be your beverage of choice, but the popular phenomenon of making tea during times of stress or illness is an important lesson in taking care of ourselves (and one another). We all benefit from knowing when to slow down and engage in small, gentle acts of nurturing.

Revel In Variety

Tea is popular in part because there are so many varieties! Whether its herbal, floral, or black, each blend delights with its own unique combination of flavors, aromas, and colors. Most tea drinkers would be missing out if they only stuck to one type. Life is the same way. It benefits us to try as many different options as we can.

Whether you’re a seasoned drinker or simply enjoy a nice hot cup every now and then, consider what tea can teach you the next time you put on the kettle.