It's official! In times of crisis (or pandemic), people turn to tea.
The US Tea Association reported that total tea imports grew by 8% in 2021, with a qualitative study in 2020 finding that consumers turned to tea during those difficult times. This trend continued in 2021, with tea’s perception as being an enabler for de-stressing, as well as providing a feeling of “centeredness” in anxious times.
Further, consumers seem to truly embrace the entire process of brewing tea in their home. It is known that personal “tea ceremonies” – whether using a family recipe, a “mum’s” kettle or a certain mug – in and of itself calms and relaxes.
Tea’s natural ability to induce a “relaxed but ready” mental state, and ability to heighten the feeling of serenity and internal quiet, made it a go-to choice for troubled tea lovers.
We asked our friend Rebecca Alfonso, founder of Her.Wellbeing & Her.Wellbeing.Creative, to tell us more about how tea rituals can play a role in enhancing our wellbeing.
Any tea lover knows the comfort that a warm cup of tea can bring, it has a wonderful way of soothing you like nothing else. Creating tea-time rituals throughout your day can supercharge your cup of tea’s ability to enhance your overall wellbeing and keep the calm.
Tea-time rituals are ingrained in many cultures throughout the world and have stood the test of time in the moments of quiet, calm, and connection that they promote. Having a regular tea-time ritual is a wonderful invitation for you to take breaks throughout the day to recharge, be present in your here and now, and in turn, create a sense of stillness and relaxation at regular intervals throughout your day.
The Importance of Rituals for Our Wellbeing
Rituals are a series of actions performed in the same order every time you do them. Much research has found that rituals decrease anxiety and promote a greater sense of wellbeing for those who engage in them daily. Much of this has to do with the consistency and predictability that rituals can provide, allowing a reprieve from the uncertainty and anxiety we sometimes face in life, and also give us a break from constant demands on our attention. Knowing that you have set times in your day where you engage in a ritual, such as preparing and enjoying a cup of tea, provides a sense of comfort in knowing despite what else is happening that day, you always have this sacred time for yourself to be still and reenergise.
Having that calm, undisturbed time is so important to be able to access a clearer headspace and set intentions of how to move forward in productive ways and work towards big picture goals. If we are in a constant state of doing and being distracted or frazzled, it is near impossible to reach our full potential in our everyday endeavours and our bigger picture thinking.
What Exactly is a Tea-Time Ritual?
Tea-time rituals places deeper meaning on the act of making a cup of tea, so that you bring the process away from being an automated habit and elevate it to become a sacred act of being intentionally present and connected with yourself.
These rituals can become the ultimate form of self-care, serving as an opportunity to prioritise yourself and take the time out of your day to connect to your own needs, process your thoughts, and really take notice of and savour your surroundings with a quiet and calm mind.
Tea-time rituals are centred around mindfulness. It is so important for our overall wellbeing that we create space in our day to pause and tune into what is going on for us in the moment- to actually experience and reflect on those little moments that make up our life. Mindfulness is intentionally tuning into your present moment to be more aware of what you are experiencing, feeling, thinking, and what your senses are receiving from the outside world.
The ritual of tea-time is a great way to practice mindfulness if we make it a conscious habit to really engage all our senses throughout the entire process, to limit distraction and quieten our mind. From preparing your tea to drinking it, tune into what you are doing and feeling in the moment and try not to let your mind wander or go about the process in autopilot.
How to Start a Tea-Time Ritual
The simplest way to limit distraction and focus on your tea experience is to tune into your five senses. As you pick up your cup, select your tea, and fill the kettle to boil, notice how everything feels to touch with your hands. Listen to the sounds of the water in its different forms as you fill your kettle and it bubbles to boil. As you pour the hot water into your cup, feel the steam on your hand and face. Smell the gorgeous tea aromas as the water engulfs the teabag. Bring it closer to you and inhale, savouring for a moment the fresh scents in your blend of choice.
As you drink your tea, take slow and intentional sips, really taking note of the various flavours you can taste, and what they remind you of. Feel the warmth from each sip travelling from your mouth into your body. Hug your cup between both your hands, letting the warmth soothe you. Really savouring tea-time as a mindful experience can calm you and allow you some headspace to retreat and rejuvenate throughout little pockets of your day to keep the calm and stay in the moment.
Choose Times of the Day That Will Benefit You the Most
Whether you choose to cultivate tea-time rituals once a day or multiple times, think about your personal intentions for beginning the rituals and what you hope to get out of them. For example, do you want to begin your day refreshed with a clear and calm headspace? First thing in the morning may benefit you the most. Or do you find that you hit a lethargic wall by 3pm and would benefit from a ritual to reset and energise to take you through to the evening? Perhaps you would like to ensure you are checking in with yourself multiple times a day and taking regular breaks for self-care? Or you may benefit the most from ending your day with tea-time to decompress after your day, setting you up for a restful night’s sleep?
Rituals are very personal, and unless you have designed them around your own authentic needs and motivations, they are unlikely to be sustainable. When you can really cultivate them to fill your individual aspirations, they are more likely to become part of your everyday.
Ensure that You Choose a Calming Space to Enjoy Your Tea-Time Rituals
Our physical surroundings have a huge impact on our wellbeing and our ability to completely engage in mindfulness. Tea-time rituals can be enhanced if you are able to have a dedicated space where you retreat with your tea to practice being mentally present for the time it takes to enjoy each sip until you are finished. Ensure that your tea-time space is quiet, decluttered, cosy, and comfortable, with minimal distractions. Incorporating meaningful focal points, such as artwork or nature (either being outside, having a beautiful pot plant, or sitting by a window) can help you to focus on your present moment without letting your mind wander towards to-do lists or worries outside of that time and space.
Tea-time rituals really are a fuss-free, easy way to being some calm to your day and ensure that your mind, body, and soul are connected and supported.
So next time you boil the kettle and reach for your favourite tea, supercharge its benefits and try to make it a more mindful process and build from there. It is just one more way that tea can provide us with holistic health benefits and encourage a calmer way of life.