I was welcomed into the world of tea as a little girl. My mama would make me a warm delicious almond herb tea each morning and I remember devouring the sweetness, looking forward to that morning warmth everyday. In the evening before bed I would have the same, sipping it like a hummingbird coming home to delectable nectar.
It was a ritual, a ceremony and one that I hold in practice to this day. I had a sensai, I call her, when I lived in New York City, wise, beautiful Japanese woman, named Akimi, that taught me many, many wise and invaluable lessons, one was becoming one with tea. She shared the ancient Japanese traditions of preparing tea, and not just the cup of delight but in creating the atmosphere around–candles, incense, tranquil music to soothe the soul. Long before the now common knowledge of the benefits of green tea, she said, every being should indulge in two cups of green tea daily, not just for the health of the body, but mind and soul as well. I was 21 years old then and still do this daily. She introduced me to the gorgeous textures and tastes of a variety of green teas and I found my favorite in green tea, genmaicha, made with crisp brown rice. It is earthy and comforting, tasty and unique. She shared white teas, jasmine teas and rose teas. She taught me about the importance of the kettle used, the tea cup sipped from, and how the iron tea kettle holds and resonates the flavor while steeping. The handle of a tea cup should be warm to feel the tea and it does enhance the experience. How one stores tea is also crucial to savoring it, Teavana has the loveliest designs for this. Cylinders made from antique Japanese kimonos with a special seal protecting the tea from air which can thwart the essence.
Traveling to another part of the world, I discovered more about my passion for tea in South Africa. The beloved Rooibos, meaning red bush in Afrikaans. Again, earthy and with a bit of natural sugar and perfectly warmed milk could be a highlight of any day. I also discovered chrysanthemum tea, made from the essence of the flower itself which promotes balance in the body and potent for maintaining bright skin.
Now, as a mother, I have the wonderful opportunity to share my teas with my girl’s. Sage and I, since she was a wee little one have homemade tea parties and bake scones to support celebration of tea and ignite the marriage of flavor.
Tea, really is a hug in a cup, which is why preparing it one feels the beauty of the ceremony. And that moment of handing the perfectly brewed tea, iced or not to a loved one is alike a small gift given and received each day…