What's Your Ritual Contest for Steepsterites!
We have a special contest for all of you. In 50-100 words, tell us about your favorite tea ritual or experience. Our favorite will win a large can of Yunnan Golden Buds and 4 others will win a can of Lemon Yunnan. We look forward to hearing about your ritual.
I take this one particular spoon and put just enough in my gaiwan. It’s a waiting game, but at least stovetop hot water has bubbles that are always fun to watch. The temperature is right, so I pour it in. I just relax and wait for it to infuse, but the water slowly transforming into tea, the smell of brewing leaves, and the overall serenity this single cup has produced makes me wonder if it holds the answers to more than my thirst. This is my ritual, and no matter where I go it soothes me.
One day, I received a sampler of Japanese tea; I liked teas, but had never tried much before (other than bags).
I opened the package and saw the ‘complicated’ brewing instructions (I had never made loose tea before!) and tried to figure out how to prepare it.
I found a 32 oz glass measuring cup, a small metal sifting filter (the kind you use for flour), and a thermometer (the kind you use for testing doneness of Turkey!)….
Not long thereafter I had my first cup of Sencha. I remember the delicious, veggie, somewhat bitter/sweet flavors that came from that cup —
It was like love at first sip!
On rare Saturday mornings when I’m the only one awake, I turn the tiniest kitchen light on and start a kettle with the lid up so the whistle doesn’t wake anyone.
I set out two cherished pieces of teaware; a Brown Betty pot with the painted flowers half chipped off (a legacy from my Mema) and a Tea Club mug (the first truly thought-out gift my middle school son bought me). Neither are elegant, neither were expensive, but both are precious.
When the tea is ready, the lights go back off. I sit cross-legged on our comfy couch under a quilt hand-pieced by a dear friend. I rest with my chin on the edge of the mug to let the scent and the steam wash over me. Truly a few cup-runneth-over moments.
…we were in California in June, staying at Deetjens in Big Sur. We came back to our cabin tired from a day of adventure, but in the mood for something sweet and our nightly tea.
To help you imagine: http://www.deetjens.com/restaurant.htm
The hostess remembered us from another night we were there for dinner. She helped out my sick husband with a bowl of soup and ginger beer. This evening, she brought us pot de creme and a teapot of rooibos. How could you not like rooibos after that? Every time I have it, the taste brings me back to that night. Beauty, warmth, comfort, care, sweetness. I keep on saying that I am going to seek out flavored rooibos and try a variety of additions, but I never do. I now realize this is why.
My tea habit started innocently enough. I first started drinking tea years ago as a way to wean myself off of coffee. However, drinking tea quickly took a life of its own. It is now an essential ritual for every morning. Tea is my daily act of contemplation through preparation: setting the kettle to boil, spooning out a just-right proportion of tea leaves, and waiting while it steeps.There is beauty and a lesson in patience in watching the leaves open up and unfurl in the steaming water. This is my way to gather my thoughts for facing the day.
Before 2001, I’d never had tea. That summer, I was lucky enough to get an internship in London. I was the first one to arrive everyday. An hour later, Pablo would meander in.
The very first thing that Pablo did when he came in was to go to the hot plate in the pseudo-kitchenette and start a pot of tea. He went through the whole thing: steeping the loose leaves, heating the serving pot and cups, everything. Was a whole new world to me. And he’d make me a cup with milk and sugar every day.
This went on for about two weeks, and one day I decided to fix Pablo his tea for him.
To say it was a disaster is putting it nicely. I burned myself on the hot plate, used too much leaf, stewed the tea, and curdled the milk. Worst pot of tea ever. I was pretty much in tears because I just couldn’t do it.
That’s when Pablo walked in. He took one look at me, and the mess around me, gave me a hug, and picked up the cup I’d fixed him. He took a sip, and declared it the best cup of tea an American had ever made him.
If I had to say a ritual consistently maintained, it would be in high school when my mom and I would make tea together. We didn’t have a kettle so we would heat up the water in a small saucepan. The tea wasn’t fancy (twinnings bagged Irish breakfast) or artfully prepared, but it’s what brought me to love the world of tea. I would have my cup plain and my mom would have her’s with a splash of milk. Then we would sit down and chat. It is one of things I miss most now that I am away at college.
There is a wonderful tea called Sunday Morning, from Light of Day Organics.
I love to be literal with this tea and sip it on Sunday morning. It is just the perfect balance for such days. It has simple strength, the complexity of vanilla, and elegant chrysanthemum blossoms. A triumvirate tea for a set apart day.
Every morning, choosing my tea is my first decision of the day. Sometimes it’s the most important… if I need a strong cup to amp up for the day, or something more mellow to center myself. The hour I spend in the morning slowly drinking my tea with no one but the cats is one of the real “me” moments I get each day.
The first time I had hot tea was when I went with my mother to visit her half sister, my Aunt Madie, when I was about 10 . She was a very proper southern woman who managed to warm and welcoming and formal at the same time.
She served us Earl Grey tea in shallow bone china teacups with a very thin slice of lemon. Already impressed, after the first sip, I have been enthralled by tea from that moment on.