Tranquility, creativity and reflection: the ritual of brewing tea.

The story

Over the years as I’ve gradually become more mindful, I have fewer anxiety triggers. Things that are out of my control (for example, trains running late, heavy rain) might be inconveniences but they don’t have the same physical effect that they used to. I can generally manage my mood and go on with my day. Do you know what would make me really anxious, though? If my favourite mug were to suddenly break (or, perhaps more alarmingly, if someone ELSE used it).

The ritual

Every morning, as a part of my tea brewing ritual, I place my favourite mug out on the bench, ready to take the day alongside me.
It’s a beautifully crafted ceramic mug, with earthy colours and texture; raw, natural and considered.

The process is always exactly the same: Warm the teapot and mug with hot water.

Choose from my selection of loose leaf tea: I run my finger along my dedicated tea shelf while I make the decision; some people come to the process with a specific tea in mind. I love using delicate tea such as Love Tea’s Vitality tea.

Rinse the leaves gently in cold water first.

Then I boil the kettle: the desired temperature of course depends on the tea selection.

I pour the water over the leaves in gentle circular motions.

Let it steep—and don’t do anything else while this is happening. No ‘oh I’ll just answer this email’ or ‘I’d better turn the computer on’—I’m here for the process just as much as the end result.

When the tea is in the mug I wrap my hands around it.

Feel the warmth seep into my fingers. Inhale the aroma. I’m ready.

How many of you are nodding along with me right now? Perhaps even inspired to go and brew some tea to enjoy while you’re reading this?

What belongs to us, and what we give away, seems very precious to us. — Aristotle

The science


Because that’s the thing: I’m not alone in this.

Psychology Today explains that we don’t have a favourite mug because we’re confused and think ‘things’ are ‘people’. It’s because they’re our mugs, we use them every day (for me, multiple times!), they’re often the first thing we go to in the morning and the last thing we go to at night. 

Our brains ascribe significance to them because they’re constant, they’re ours, and we have them, for keeps. There aren’t many things in the world about which we can say that.Not only that, but I’m going to hazard one more guess and say that whichever is your favourite mug (hopefully the one you’re now sipping from at this very moment) was given to you by someone you love, or reminds you of them.  Some of my favourite mugs are tied to certain experiences or travels. I buy a mug whenever I travel so I can remember (dare I say, relive?) the experience when I get home.

The emotions

My partner, Shane, uses a mug given to him by his daughter, Tilly. It proclaims him to be the ‘greatest Dad in the world’. I think every parent has a mug such as this. Of course, none of them are wrong. It sits next to mine on our shelf and although we share everything else I would never, ever, use his mug. It would feel like I was invading something personal, a sacred space that a loved one uses to perform their daily rituals. Sharing and giving are of course fundamental aspects of living a holistic life, but sometimes we just need a little something, about which we can say yes, that’s mine. I know where it is when I need it, I know I have it, and it’s just for me.


The takeaway

If we own a thing, hold it in our hands, see and use it every day, no matter how small it may be: we can cherish it. Not only that, we can cherish the time we spend with it. Nobody is spending time carefully brewing a delicate tea and then pouring it into a plastic cup. Our treasured vessel completes the ritual, and turns the process into something tangible that we can take with us on the rest of the day’s journeys. 

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