Culture

A Quick Guide to Demystify Tea Rituals

There are three main steps to a tea ritual: preparation, the act of brewing, and the enjoyment of your final product.
There are three main steps to a tea ritual: preparation, the act of brewing, and the enjoyment of your final product.
Do you incorporate a tea pot in your ritual? Featured here is a fine pairing of tea-ware from Masters Teas.
Do you incorporate a tea pot in your ritual? Featured here is a fine pairing of tea-ware from Masters Teas.

What is your tea ritual? Do you have one? What even is it? A tea ritual is your own unique process for making tea. There is no right or wrong way to cultivate a tea ritual (well there is a right way for the sequence of events, I mean you just wouldn’t drink a cup of tea before you took the steeping leaves out).

Although there are guidelines, each step is up to your own personal interpretation. There are three main steps to a tea ritual: preparation, the act of brewing, and the enjoyment of your final product. But within those main steps there are many sub-steps and opportunities to come up with something that in uniquely you. I’ll be going over the steps and how to create your own tea ritual, along with what my ritual is.

Preparation

You may be thinking, “Ok, preparation, that is just heating the water and picking which tea I want to drink, right?”. WRONG! This is a tea RITUAL, not some half-haphazard tea whatever. In my opinion, preparing is the most involved — but I’m also a planner, so it’s kind of my forte.

Preparing to make your cup of tea goes back starting at the water. You want to make sure the water you are drinking has a neutral flavor, so it doesn’t affect the taste of the tea. That can mean using a bottle of your finest still water that costs $15 or that can mean using filtered tap water—whichever you prefer. Make sure to use a good filter-system as it can make a huge difference in the taste of the tea. I like to use filtered tap water because it is more environmentally friendly, cost effective, and I have found that 90% of the time I can detect a plastic flavor in bottled water (this occurs if the bottles have gone through temperature abuse).

Next on the list is your water heating device. Are you going to use a stove kettle or an electric kettle? Are you going to heat your water in the microwave (spoiler alert: this is the wrong answer)?

I personally use an electric kettle –I like this option because it is quicker than a stovetop kettle and it is so easy to get the right water temperature because of the different heating options. However, there are things I like about a stovetop kettle—if I’m not in a rush, the longer time it takes to heat the water almost enhances the tea drinking experience because you put that much more into making a cup. And the sound of the whistle going off is super charming. Both options are equally fine in my opinion, one is more efficient and easier and the other is more mindful and dreamier.

Now, onto the cup. This is very important. Which mug are you going to choose? This sets the tone for your tea drinking experience. Are you going for the sleek, modern cup that is super Instagrammable? Are you going for your tried and true reliable cup?

It is usually your everyday mug that is a part of a set and knows how to get the job done. Are you going for the big, cozy mug for when you need a cup that is going to support you and be there for you during your movie binge? This really depends on your mood of the day. This part doesn’t need too much thought, go with what you are feeling is the vibe of the day.

I’m talking about a lot of different things that need to be prepared, but what about the tea? That is my next topic!

Now you have the pick which tea you are feeling. This process is similar to picking your mug. It depends on what you are feeling in that moment. Do you want a warm, cozy chai because it is a cold winter night in by the fireplace? Do you want a cup something that is going to help because you are feeling under the weather? Do you want something that will make you feel refreshed and ready for the day? Once you have chosen your tea, measure out the appropriate amount. And by appropriate, I mean whatever fits your tastes. I like my tea very strong, so I use extra. But if you like your tea to be lighter, you can use less as well.

Brewing

Brewing is the quickest step because you’ve done your preparation. But this is now GO time. This is where we get things done. So, you have your heated water, grabbed your mug, and picked your tea leaves. Combine them all together and voila, you have your cup! Proceed to the next phase.

Just kidding, obviously there is a little more that goes into it.

Like how are you going to steep your leaves? Are you going to use an ancillary cup to mix the water and leaves and then strain into your mug of choice? That is pretty complicated but props to you if that is how you choose to proceed. I like to use a big-cup sized steeper like this one. You want to use something that is going to allow for the leaves to come in contact with the most water so something like that is better than those pincher steepers that don’t allow for much movement.

So once your water is heated to the correct temperature, you can continue with brewing your leaves with your method of choice. And now you wait. But how are you keeping track of the time? Are you using a tea timer? Are you intuitively guessing the time passed? Are you glimpsing at the clock on the oven or microwave and estimating the brew time? All these methods are a perfectly acceptable way to count time. I like to go with the intuitively guessing method. It all depends on what your tea ritual is about. Is it focusing on precision or is about enjoying the experience? Are you in a rush or are you able to take your time?

Once your brewing time is up, you can remove the leaves and now move on to enjoying your cup of tea.

Enjoying

The best part of the tea ritual! Now you finally get to reap what you sowed, drink what you brewed! Do you like to add any extras to your tea? Such as milk, sugar, honey, spices, lemon, etc.

Do you have a favorite spot where you enjoy your tea? Do you prepare your tea in a teapot instead of a mug? I have one like this for special occasions. I like it because it adds an air of sophistication my tea ritual and it keeps the tea warm for a long time.

Do you have an adorable tea pet that you feed?? For those of you who don’t know, a tea pet is a tiny clay figurine that is meant to be your tea companion (now found on Adagio's rewards page). Whenever you have a cup of tea, you pour a bit over your tea pet and over time, the color and scent soak in. This is a tradition that dates back to ancient China. I don’t have a tea pet yet, but I’ve had my eyes on the lovebirds.

The enjoyment step is where you can really personalize your tea ritual. What can you add to create an ambiance? Do you like to put your record player on while you’re drinking your tea? Or do you like to put on your comfiest slippers? Do you have a porch you can sit on while sipping? I like to sink into the right side of my couch in my living room and cradle my cup for a few minutes. I love feeling the warmth of my cup against my hands—especially since they are perpetually cold. I’ll usually take some time to focus on nothing but drinking my tea. I like my tea ritual to be able slowing down and taking in my surroundings.

There are so many different characteristics you can add to make the ritual your own. Hopefully I have shed some light on what a tea ritual is and how you can come up with one. Think about what you want your tea ritual to be about and the personal flair you give each step will come naturally. Good luck!