Five Life Lessons From Tea
As fall approaches and our minds turn to schooling, it’s that time of the calendar when we think about how we can move forward and develop ourselves for the coming year. It’s also Virgo Season, which can feel like extra pressure to do it all the I’s and cross all the T’s even if we aren’t in a position to re-enter an academic institution— the school of life is always in session!
Which got me thinking, speaking of crossing T’s— other than Uncle Iroh, what better teacher in the school of life is there, than tea?
The more I considered what I’ve learned from tea— preparing, serving, studying— the more I realized how tea can lead us to being better people overall. Helping people be better at themselves is one of the reasons I became a NASM-certified personal trainer and nutrition coach in the first place, and you can bet that I was drinking tea through all those study sessions as well!
So here are five life lessons I’ve acquired through tea...
Now, if you’re a martial artist, you may recognize these as also being the core tenets of taekwondo. But even if you aren’t a fitness pro or a martial arts nerd, these are vital concepts to think about and see if you can incorporate into your everyday practice.
Before you say anything, I’m being so very, very good right now and not taking advantage of the pun waiting inside that happy little noun up above. See? Progress. (You can supply the pun on your own. I’ll never stop you.)
In TKD, we teach the littlest students that integrity is “Doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.” For me, that means things like buying local, and maintaining relationships with companies that I trust and believe in. That’s why I continue to use Adagio for all my tea-gifting needs. It’s certainly local to an NYC resident like myself, but more importantly it carries real tea, good tea, and tea that I never cease to enjoy sharing with my friends and loved ones whenever I get the chance.
One of my favorite gifts— a real crowd-pleaser, I’m telling you! — is Mocha Nut Mate. There isn’t a single friend into whose arms I’ve dumped this delightful little blend that hasn’t come back and ordered ten pounds of it at a time. (10 pounds may be a slight exaggeration, but I’m not a match teacher. Priorities.)
The act of picking out a tea and serving it to someone is a huge sign of respect. Think about it: you’re considering their taste, aesthetics, preferences… The more effort you put into offering them something they’ll truly appreciate, the more they will appreciate your respect for them in turn.
When it comes to the concept of respect, I can’t help but gravitate towards Adagio’s amazing selection of green teas, particularly Sencha Premier and Gyokuro. So many people are scared of trying green tea for fear that it will turn out bitter and unpleasant, but if you treat the leaves with just a little bit of respect— ie: NOT dousing them with scalding water, as you would for a black, herbal, or Pu-Erh— then they’ll open up with the most beautiful flavor-notes and fragrances.
Some folks assume that respect and courtesy are the same, but the latter is when you actually demonstrate the politeness that true respect necessitates. And to be fair, respect can be a subtle thing. Not everyone goes out of their way to make it obvious, which is why we need courtesy to help get the message across.
That’s why my attention immediately turns to the Teaware section! Because while you’re welcome to dump your leaves grandpa-style into any old cup when you’re home alone, if guests are over, then you need to show some courtesy by using halfway— but really, more than halfway— decent china. I love the colors of the Ceramic Cups collection, the austerity of the Yixing collection, the delicacy of the Glassware collection, and the utter convenience of the Travel collection when you’re serving on the go! Also, have you seen the beautiful designs over at Master's Teas?!
Tea is such a wonderful indulgence, what about it could possibly require discipline?
Obviously, you’ve never had to steep a Jasmine Silver Needle.
White teas require a level of faith and finesse that goes beyond just boiling a pot of water and throwing it on top of a blend. Especially when you’re thirsty, it can seem like the recommended 2-5 minutes at 165 degrees Fahrenheit takes foreeeeeever to wait around for.
That’s where self-discipline makes everything worth it.
This one is my favorite to end on, because what happens if you don’t succeed at one of the values above?
We all have our off days when we’re not feeling like we have the most integrity possible, or we find it difficult to show respect for someone who may not reciprocate. That’s perfectly ok!
Get up, dust yourself off, and try steeping another cup.
NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach, Founder of Work Life Fitness