Blast From the Past: The ritual of tea

Blast From the Past: The ritual of tea


My favorite way to spend a Sunday morning is to brew a big pot of tea and relax while planning my day.  Sometimes I putter around the house, straightening things up or doing laundry, but more often it is my tea, a book, and me – and some nice swing / standards music in the background (think Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, or Peggy Lee).  The tea is an integral part of my routine.  I can’t imagine http://www.flickr.com/photos/chinogypsie/1466797471/getting up and getting going without it.  When I have brunch plans on Sunday mornings, I always enjoy seeing my friends, but there is usually a small moment when I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to drink my tea and ease into the day.

The type of tea is important, too.  On Sundays, I normally steep a flavored black tea blend.  Yes, that may make some of you consider me a philistine, but I enjoy it.  It’s kind of like eating healthy all week and on Sunday having an indulgent cinnamon bun or an old-fashioned fry-up.  During the week, and even on Saturdays, I drink oolong, or a nice Darjeeling, or my favorite Natela’s Gold black tea from Georgia.  I even throw in a green tea here and there (although I should really do this more often to reap more health benefits).  But Sundays are reserved for my flavored black teas.

One of my recent discoveries is to make a vanilla chai black tea.  I blend the following:

  1. 2 parts plain black tea, usually an Assam or a Ceylon – something with a bit of body
  2. 1 part chai tea blend
  3. 1 part vanilla black tea

This might sound horrid, but I love it!  I’ve tried chai made the traditional way, but I’m not a big milk drinker, so I don’t drink that very often.  However, I love the spices used in chai tea blends, so I like to incorporate them into my own personal blends.  I drink it straight – no milk, no sweetener.  The bite of the chai is tempered by the smoothness of the vanilla, so it makes it a great way to ease into a day.

There are many different tea rituals, from the gong fu tea ceremony, to the Malaysian “pulled” tea, to the very proper British high tea.  Everyone knows about these, but I’m curious to know what your own tea rituals are.  Do you drink tea from a certain cup, prepared a particular way?  Do you have someone with whom you share a love of tea, and make things “just so” when you get together over a cup?  Do you have a special tea shop you stop by often to get your daily fix (if so, you’re very lucky!)?  What is it about drinking that particular tea in that exact way that comforts you, or calms you, or gives you a sense of peace?

I often wonder whether it’s the ritual or the tea itself that has such a calming effect.  We know that some of the benefits of tea include various antioxidants that can lower blood pressure and create other relaxing effects, but I think that a great part of drinking tea is the calm that you feel when preparing the tea.  It forces you to slow down and take a few minutes out from your normal life.

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Written by Nancy Murphy, originally posted in August 2011



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