Savor the Moment: The Art of Tea

Incorporating the art of tea into your daily routine provides a delicious meditative pause and an opportunity to connect with history.

| September/October 2002

Tea, a beverage derived from the plant Camellia sinensis, represents a sense of ceremony, history, and tranquility to people around the world. The practice of making a good cup of tea and learning about tea’s history are gaining popularity in the United States as people recognize both the physical and mental benefits of incorporating the art of tea into their daily lives.

Historically reserved for society’s upper echelon and closely connected to religious practices, tea ceremonies have been adopted by many cultures and adapted to fit various lifestyles. Today tea is the world’s most popular beverage next to water. And although schools of thought differ on the art of tea, most agree that, at the root, a good cup of tea begins with the leaf, a deep breath, and a few moments of quiet.

“The entire event of brewing and drinking [tea] can have a beneficial effect on your health and mental well-being,” says Jane Pettigrew, author of several books on the art of tea, including The Tea Companion: A Connoisseur’s Guide (Macmillan, 1997). “Tea calms and focuses you.”

The quiet elegance of the tea ceremony—both the ritualistic and formal Japanese tea ceremony and the more social Chinese version—speaks for itself. The simplicity of the ceremony, whether performed in a traditional teahouse or at home, imparts a unique sense of serenity while it opens a door to another time and culture. A growing number of people who appreciate the history and grace that tea brings to their lives have created tea rituals of their own. “Everyone develops his or her own tradition,” says Stephanie Klausner, owner of Red Crane Teas in Denver. “Ceremony is what you make it.”

In general, tea ceremonies provide an opportunity for the body and mind to focus on one task and release other elements of the day. “It’s a mindful process that brings us back to ourselves,” says tea instructor Donna Roberts Fellman, manager of the TeaCup in Seattle. “It’s a way to create a sacred space in our lives, to take time to stop and be mindful of the process of making a cup of tea.”

Brewing a cup of tea

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