Many of us live a fast-paced life, taking care of family, doing our jobs, keeping our bosses happy, building a career, etc. We fit tea in as time allows, grabbing a teabag, zapping the water in the microwave, and barely waiting long enough for the tea to infuse into the water. We gulp it hot and get back to work or rush out the door to pick the kids up from soccer practice. We barely taste the tea, therefore. On special occasions we meet with friends and family at a tea room and are served tea in lovely teapots, and the tea is let oversteep while we enjoy all the little finger sandwiches, quiches, scones, cakes, and other delicacies. Sooner or later, the tea starts to work its spell on us and effect a change.
Tea is said to calm and invigorate all at once. A lot of this is attributed to theanine, a substance that has been studied for its potential to reduce mental and physical stress, improve cognition, and boost mood and cognitive performance in conjunction with the caffeine in tea. But tea also calms by changing your life pace at least long enough to steep it and enjoy. The more you enjoy tea, the more it will change your lifestyle. Some teas can be steeped multiple times. They steep up quickly but should be let cool a minute or two so you can better perceive the flavors, and then you sip and enjoy, heat more water, steep another round, let that cool, and sip and enjoy. This whole process can do something to your mood and to your entire lifestyle.
You may start setting aside time for tea (not just where you steep a potful and gulp it with goodies, but where you focus just on the tea). Oolongs, pu-erhs, and even some green teas that can undergo multiple infusions will start to dominate over the tea dust style black teas (loose or in bags). You may find yourself abandoning a mug or a teapot in favor of a gaiwan or one of those special zisha clay Yixing teapots. Your whole world could end up slowing down as you learn to sip and savor each drop. Who knows…you might even start your own tea company! (I just saw a tea blogger online who is doing just that.)
Such symbiotic relations between you and tea are quite natural and to be expected for, unlike other beverages, tea is truly a way of life. Enjoy!
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