The consumption of tea and the social aspect of the tea ritual has become increasingly popular with the younger generation. They are interested in the history of the drink and how they can adapt the tea ritual into their modern lives.
What Is a Tea Ritual?The practice of a tea ritual is much more than simply tossing a tea bag into hot water. It's a ceremonial practice rooted in custom and tradition. A tea ritual is a ceremonial way of preparing and drinking tea that encourages presence and mindfulness. A tea ritual promotes respect, harmony, and tranquility. In a tea ritual, everything is important. From the room where the ceremony takes place, to the preparation and presentation of the tea ceremony, every aspect is prepared with purpose and intention. One of the most important purposes of the tea ceremony is to create an atmosphere where the host and guests can enjoy good conversation and strengthen social bonds.
History of the Tea Ceremony
Teatime traditions are common in many cultures around the world. After the discovery of the tea leaf in ancient China nearly 5000 years ago, it didn't take long for the aromatic herb to travel to countries such as Japan, India, Turkey, Taiwan, and England where each culture created rituals around tea. Today, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, and the practice of the tea ritual has even become popular with millennials.
ORIGINS IN CHINA AND JAPAN
In ancient China, tea leaves were originally consumed whole, like a vegetable, or cooked into a porridge. Later, tea leaves were heated and formed into cakes. The cakes were ground into a powder that was added to hot water to make a drink called muo cha, or matcha. The hot beverage became popular with emperors and the tea ceremony was born. In the 9th Century, Japanese monk brought the first tea plant to Japan where it was used as a medicinal beverage. In the mid-1300s, the people of Japan began enjoying tea and created tea rituals that focused on spiritual aspects. Chanoyu, or, the way of the tea, is a tea ceremony formed around the green tea, Matcha. This tea ceremony creates a simplistic yet elegant atmosphere that promotes meditation, appreciation, and respect.
JOURNEY TO EUROPE
Later, Dutch traders brought tea to Europe where the drink became popular with the English aristocracy. At this time, the tea plant was only grown in China, but as more and more people became enamoured with the tea plant and the aromatic beverage made from it, Great Britain sought ways to circumvent buying their tea from China. Eventually, the British East India Company commissioned Robert Fortune, a botanist, to travel to China to discover the methods for growing and producing tea leaves so that they could reproduce those techniques. Mr. Fortune was successful in his task and China's monopoly on tea was forever changed when the British East India Company started growing tea in India.
TEA TIME‚ IS BORNEven though tea was popular in England in the 1660s thanks to King Charles II, it wasn't until 1840 that the traditional afternoon tea was inadvertently started by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. In her household, the evening meal was served around eight o'clock, leaving a very long time between lunch and dinner. Around four o'clock in the afternoon, she became hungry and requested that a tray of tea and cakes be brought to her. She began inviting friends to join her and thus was born the tradition of afternoon tea in England. Since then, tea rituals and tea ceremonies have transformed as each country, each culture, and each generation has put their stamp on the traditional ritual. Today, tea rituals can promote mindfulness and create a much-needed break from the pressures of the modern world.
How to Create a Personal Tea Ritual
You don't have to be a tea sommelier to experience the wonders of the tea ritual. Your tea time doesn't have to be rooted in ancient practices to be proper. It can simply be a time you set aside to practice mindfulness, visualisation, or meditation. It can be a moment where you focus on the present or spend time practicing gratitude. Or, it could be a time where you gather with close friends to build relationships.
ITEMS TO CONSIDER
There are a few things to consider when creating your tea ritual. First, you'll need to gather a few essentials such as a good tea set or your favourite mug, and fresh organic tea. A formal tea set isn't necessary but may help set the ambiance for your tea ritual. If you don't have a favourite mug, consider looking to local artisans for a mug in your favourite colour that feels comfortable nestled in your hands. Each time you drink from your new mug, you'll remember the thrill of finding the perfect cup for your tea ritual.
Next, consider the environment for your tea time.Your tea ritual is a time devoted to your well-being. Store your tea in a special canister or jar that is visually appealing and place it in a significant location. Choose a specific place to take your tea each day and design an exclusive setting to enhance your tea time experience.
And last, choose a time of day that works best for you. If you like to start your day with mindfulness, adding a tea ritual in the morning will only complement your practice. An afternoon tea ritual might be just the thing you need to enjoy a break from your work. It could serve as a dedicated moment to relax and recharge with a cup of energising tea. As you wind down for the day, a tea ritual held in the evening featuring relaxing teas like chamomile or lavender can be the perfect way to reduce stress and prepare for a restful night. No matter what time of day you choose to incorporate your tea ritual, or who you choose to invite, the practice will be one you look forward to every day.