Health & Beauty

The AnTEAdote to Stress

Tea and meditation are a great pair
Tea and meditation are a great pair

One of the hallmarks of recent times is the increase in stress. We're busier than ever despite all the "time-saving" gadgets, and, as a culture, we Americans find it difficult to say no to invitations to volunteer, stay overtime at work, go the extra mile for friends, neighbors and our business or employer. While learning how to prioritize your time enough to understand when it's okay to say no to another obligation, it isn't always easy. So, what's a 21st century person to do?

Establish a tea ritual!

The ritual for preparing tea to de-stress is purposeful, personal and, most importantly, quiet alone time to connect with body and mind.

While soft music may help you enter a state of relaxation, silence is even better. Look around your home and select a place that's comfortable, has a table for your tea preparation and quiet enough for you to get pleasure from the experience without unnecessary distraction.

Think about the tea you'd most like to savor. Is it a Chinese Keemun, Taiwanese oolong or Japanese Sencha? Something treasured for special occasions or something you've never tried before or your every day favorite; any one of these is perfect, so long as it is something you love to drink.

Consider the utensils for this tea ritual. Instead of your breakfast tea mug, why not bring out a teacup and saucer that speaks to you of happy times or someone you love? Or, perhaps a small mug you or someone else made?

How will you brew the tea? Here, again, choose a vessel that you don't use any other time. It can be a treasured teapot or an Yixing pot dedicated to a particular tea or a handy fun strainer and bowl whose colors you adore. Keep these just for your tea ritual so that when you see them, your body will automatically sigh, relax and know the calming meditative moments that are to follow.

To add a little more comfort, select a nice placement, fabric napkin, and if you use them, nice sugar and cream accessories and spoon for using.

Now it's time to prepare the tea consciously, intently. Place the tea in the vessel and turn on the kettle. While it is heating, set out all your accoutrements. Pour the hot water on the tea and let it steep the suggested time, then sip slowly.

In between sips, take deep breaths. Breathe out these deep breaths slowly. Sitting more on the back of your thighs than on your derriere will help your posture which will help your breathing.

Continue to sip, breathe, appreciate the quiet of the room and the flavor and fragrance of the tea. You'll soon discover that your tastebuds will be more attuned than ever to the warmth, the aftertastes, the distinctive aromas.

At first, it may actually be a challenge to do nothing but brew and drink your tea and be conscious of your breath. However, if you do this for five to ten minutes a day, you will find yourself looking forward to this experience and the distractions that clutter our minds will fall away for you will understand that this is not a time to check emails or the phone for messages; not a time to go through the never-ending to do list, and not a time to eat, draw, read or talk with another person. It IS a time to renew, refresh, regard yourself. To honor the being in human being.

One breathing exercise to do while your tea is brewing is the 4-4-8. Breathe in for the count of 4 as deeply as you can. Hold that breath for the count of 4. Then, as slowly as you can, release the breath for the count of 8. Try for two rounds before drinking your tea.

Another easy-to-learn breathing method to add to your tea "time out" is the alternative technique. Gently place your forefinger on your right nostril to close it and breathe in and out slowly with your left nostril. Do the opposite by holding your forefinger on your left nostril and breathing in and out only with your right. Do this three times for great benefit.

When to Have Your Tea Ritual?

It's totally up to you. Some people love to do this first thing in the morning before breakfast, before any of the rush-rush of an ordinary day. Morning is a great time for your favorite green or black tea to energize and awaken all your senses. The choice, as always, is yours. Do the meditative breathing techniques as indicated above and you may very well discover this practice makes you more productive, alert and in tune with yourself and your colleagues.

To make this ritual a summing up of the day, we suggest brewing one of our caffeine-free herbal teas from rooibos to chamomile. They're delicious, soothing and relaxing, and may facilitate an even better night's sleep. Include at least two rounds of breathing technique as shown above and choose from our wide selection of relaxing stimulant-free herbal teas.

Want to try something beautiful and new for this ritual? Consider one of our colorful personaliTEA sets of pot and cup; total charm!

Or, if you want to recall ceremonies of ancient Asia, one of our exquisite teapots will be a lovely addition to your contemporary tea time.

For your tea time, and every time you drink tea, try to use the best quality spring water you can find, or try our graviTEA water filter to have clean tasting always at the ready.