The Oxford Dictionary defines "tea" as: "a hot drink made by infusing the dried crushed leaves of the tea plant in boiling water:" Although technically correct, I feel that Oxford's definition leaves so much out. To me, tea means oh so much more.
Tea to Start the Day Right
I normally brew a pot of tea (loose green tea or black tea for the caffeine boost) at the start of my day. Ever since I was introduced to loose tea over five years ago, I tend to drink it most of the time.
Whenever possible, I sit and watch my Bodum Assam Tea Press as the tea is steeping. I like to watch the hues change. It starts gradually and then WHAM! - it's dark.
I also try to savour that first sip. It's one thing I discovered while on a silent retreat. When you can't talk for a weekend, what are you going to do? I chose to be present in the moment.
As I cradle the mug, I savour the warmth as it seeps from the mug to my cool fingertips. As the mug nears my lips, I pause and breathe in the symphony of subtle scents. Then, as I take that first sip, I let the flavours dance on my tongue for a few seconds before swallowing. Finally, I relish the warmth as it travels from my mouth down to my tummy.
Then, it's back to the matters at hand. As I drink, I pull out my notebook and make a plan for the day.
I don't always have the time to savour that first cup of the day. However, I do notice that the days that I don't take that extra time don't go as smoothly as the days that I do savour that first cup,
Tea to Soothe the Throat
As a music educator, vocalist and collaborative musician, I use my voice a lot. I often drink tea to prevent my throat from drying up. An added bonus is that the warmth keeps my vocal cords more relaxed.
When I'm feeling run down, my go-to drink is a Hot Toddy (alcoholic or non-alcoholic). I've managed to not lose my voice completely when I'm sick, which has happened in the past.
Tea, Conversation and Camaraderie
Enjoying good conversation over a cup of hot tea with family and friends seems to be commonplace in my circles. This spirit of sharing and bonding has extended worldwide, thanks to Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir.
Virtual Choir 4.0 is comprised of singers from 101 countries. I have really connected with several of them, to the point that we send each other care packages. We call it the Tea and Treat Exchange.
I've had the immense pleasure in trying iced tea from Louisiana, numerous teas from the UK and snacks from Puerto Rico. There is still some British jam left for me to finish, along with the Creole Jambalaya mix. What you don't see are the Cadbury Eggs that were used for the UK/US/CAN Egg Taste Test because, well, they're gone. Eaten in an Google Hangout so I could share my commentary.
Maestro even cashed in on the exchange. He's enjoyed treats from Puerto Rico and the UK. My students know that if you say, "British snackies" that Maestro knows exactly what you mean.
As you can see, tea means oh so much more to me than a mere drink. It's about balance, relationships and experiences. How about you? Do you have a special drink?