Tea Meditation - Drinking tea mindfully
It sounds fancy and even a little complex at times when we say we do meditation or mindfulness exercises. Doing a mindfulness exercise, or doing something mindfully, is simply to say that we become focused and present in that very moment. Many mistake it for having an 'empty' mind, but it might actually be the opposite - we are paying attention to and become fully aware of our senses and emotions. We are becoming mind-'ful' of what is present. Doing so distracts us from thinking about the past and future, where a lot of our anxieties and worries arise.
"We are becoming mind-'ful' of what is present."
Why are we doing this with tea in particular?
Buddhist monks discovered and started drinking tea as a way to stay awake and focused during meditation centuries ago. The practice of making, brewing and enjoying the tea has many meditational qualities.
The tea mindfulness exercise starts from the moment we start to prepare the tea. We do this to become fully aware of what is happening around you, of your own senses and experience in this moment. Remember that the focus is on your senses right at that moment and do not try and analyse what is happening.
Remember to put your phone and laptop away - it is okay to drop everything for a few minutes and focus solely on yourself.
We begin by taking a pause - close your eyes and take a few breaths.
Choose a tea
Depending on your mood and what time of the day it is (if you want to avoid caffeine consumption late in the evening), carefully choose your tea. We recommend First Sparrow green tea as a way to brighten your day in the morning, Hadong Black for a gentle pick-me-up in the afternoon and Blossom Petals or Persimmon Leaf for a complete relaxation of the body and mind for the night.
See and hear
Open your eyes and look at the colour and shape of the dry tea leaves (or flowers if drinking flower tea). Take a notice of the water boiling - see the steam coming from the spout and listen to the water boiling. Look at the tea pot and cups, how light shines on them and appreciate their design. Be very open to your senses, what you are seeing, how you are feeling - but do not try and analyse what is happening.
While the water is cooling, pick up a couple of dry leaves and feel the texture between your fingers. Bring the dry tea leaves to your nose and take a deep breath. Close your eyes and cup your other hand around the leaves. Take another deep breath.Watch
Pour the water into the pot and watch the tea as it changes colour while it brews. Notice how the leaves change shape and texture as the water meets the leaves - some leaves might unfurl and if drinking flower teas like Wild Plum Flower, flowers might appear as if they are blossoming. Watch the tea pouring into your cup once it's been brewed (follow the instructions for each tea) and take notice of how it looks in the cup.Breathe
Bring the cup close to your nose and inhale deeply. Close your eyes and cup your other hand around the cup and inhale again.Taste
Take a small sip and let it linger in your mouth. Focus on the taste and texture that your tongue detects: sweet, light, umami, bitter, cocoa, caramel, viscous, seaweed...or a combination. Swallow and pay attention to the aftertaste - what feeling, texture or flavour is lingering in your mouth? Take another sip, close your eyes and take a deep breath to allow oxygen to get into your palate as you stimulate your sense of taste and smell. Pay attention to how that made a change on the smell and taste of the tea.Repeat
You can repeat this process as some teas will infuse more than 2-3 times.
Try and remember the attitude and senses you had during this practice. Use your breath as an anchor and make most of the benefits from the tea to appreciate the rest of your day.