Post # 1
Welcome to the tea blog! I have been a tea drinker for many years but I have never taken it very seriously. I like to try different types of tea but have never been very interested in the particulars of tea. It’s time for that to change. If this page becomes popular I may turn it into a blog of it’s own. Time will tell.
You can find a blog about virtually anything you’re interested in and many of them are about tea. If you don’t know much about tea, it can all be very confusing. As I said, I’ve enjoyed tea for years but I don’t know much about it. So this page will be about what I am discovering and hopefully it will help you discover tea as well. So let’s start at the beginning. Tea comes from a plant. It has the wonderful scientific name of camellia sinensis. There are three varieties of camellia sinensis: sinensis, assamica, and cambodi. Two of them, sinensis and assamica are used to make tea. Most tea production today is done on plantation type farms. The tea plants are trimmed to a manageable size and much of the tea is plucked by hand. Some farms use machines to pluck the leaves but this degrades the quality some. If a tea plant is allowed to grow it can reach heights of 20 feet or more and can grow for more than a hundred years!
The discovery of tea as a drink is shrouded in mystery. One tale goes like this: A Chinese nobleman liked to boil his water before drinking it. As he was traveling, he was outside boiling water when a breeze blew some leaves from a nearby plant into his water and it changed color. He drank the liquid and enjoyed the taste and because of the caffeine in the tea leaves he felt refreshed and awake and thus, tea was discovered. It’s fanciful, and no one really knows if it’s true but tea had to be discovered somehow, right?
There are six different types of tea. There is black, green, yellow, white, oolong, and pu-erh. Each of these types comes from the two varieties of tea, sinensis or assamica. The differences are arrived at through the processing of the tea leaves. Originally tea came from China. The British, after years of buying tea from China found that they could grow tea in India, which was under their control at the time. Around this same time assamica tea bushes were discovered growing in India. Needless to say, the British went crazy growing tea and broke the monopoly China had on the leaf. Today, tea is grown in about 40 different counties around the world and it is a 50 billion dollar market. People like tea.
I’m going to write about the teas I’ve drank, about the industry and all the various ins and outs of tea. I hope you’ll join me and maybe get to know a little something about tea. This is a departure for me as I usually write about much more serious things. However, I think it’s time for a departure, so, bottoms up!
Most people these days lead busy lives. We work hard at our jobs, some raise families, We try to work on our relationships, maintain friendships, or hobbies. We try to squeeze in a vacation. When I’ve suggested to people who’s lives are hectic that they try meditation I’m usually told that they don’t have time or they’ve tried, and it didn’t work. I get that. Formal, sitting on a cushion meditation is something that takes time and must be allowed for. We don’t have time. So I’ve devised a little meditation technique that even busy people can do.
Without going into too much detail, mindfulness is a technique whereby you simply pay attention. Rather than let your mind wander, which is something we all do, you keep your mind focused on what is happening right now. Whether you’re washing dishes or taking a shower or driving your car (our attention should especially be focused on driving) you practice focusing on exactly what you’re doing. Just doing this during the day can help clarify the mind, help alleviate worry, and keep you much more focused to the tasks you do. Another type of meditation is to focus on a particular subject, in other words, specifically thinking about a particular thing as opposed to letting your mind wander.
This is where my technique comes in. Most mornings, I have a cup of tea. The tea has to be steeped. Whether you use loose leaf tea or a tea bag, you still have to steep it. This is when I do my Four Minute Meditation. Here’s how it goes. First I mindfully gather the things I need to make tea. The cup, the tea strainer, the tea, honey, and I put water in the kettle. I use an electric kettle which boils water in about a minute. While the water is heating I put the tea in the strainer, always focusing on exactly what I’m doing. When my mind starts to wander, which it will, I simply recognize that it’s wandering and bring my attention back to what I’m doing. When the water boils, I shut of the heat and wait for the boiling to stop. After pouring the water into the cup I start a five minute timer. I let the water cool for one minute before steeping the tea so it doesn’t acquire a bad taste from too hot water.
When the timer hits four minutes I put the strainer in the tea. This is when I do my four minute meditation. First I think about the tea plantations where my tea is grown. I think about the hundreds, maybe even thousands of workers who pluck tea for a living. Then the workers in the tea factories where the tea leaves are processed. I imagine the tea leaves being tossed in giant heated woks and sorted for quality. Then I think about the buyers and sellers of the tea, and the packaging and shipping and all the people who are involved in getting my tea half way around the world. I think about the store where I buy my tea and the workers whose job it is to sell it to me. Lastly I think about the manufacturers who made my tea strainer and cup. I think about all that is involved in the process of creating honey, the bees, the hives, the workers, and the processing and packaging and selling of the honey. I feel gratitude for the hundreds if not thousand of people it takes to bring me this one cup of tea. At the end of this the timer goes off and I add the honey and I drink it.
Just doing this short meditation each morning helps me to clarify my mind, helps me to show appreciation and gratitude toward others, and it’s just a great way to start my day.