Mindfulness is an approach to living where we become aware and accepting/acknowledging of what is directly around us and can experience life more fully. You probably think of Buddhist monks sitting on a stone floor but this attitude is weaved into traditions from many different religious and cultural backgrounds.
To fully experience tea as a dry leaf and liquid, you will need a few full-leaf tea leaves, some tea brewed with those leaves (no milk yet) poured half-full into a cup, and some time. Set aside 15-20 minutes to do this. You can focus on either the dry or liquid script, or do both at once.
1. Sight: Use Your Eyes
Seeing dry tea: Look at the tea leaf in front of you, what’s its basic shape? How many colours can you make out on it? Look as closely as you can to notice all the contours, twists, and lines on the leaf.
Seeing liquid tea: Look at the brewed tea in front of you; what colour is the liquid? How well can you see through it? Is there any sediment at the bottom and if so what size/shape is it? How does the cup you’re using contrast with the liquid? Swirl it around gently; does it leave any residue on the side of your cup?
2. Touch: Use Your Hands
Touching dry tea: Gently pick up a tea leaf and let it roll around in your hand. What texture can you feel? Is it soft or hard? Taking it gently between your index finger and thumb, again roll it around. Try closing your eyes for a moment and recreate the shape of the tea with only your sense of touch.
Touching liquid tea: Feel the outside of your cup slowly, taking in the various contours and textures. Hold your cup in your hand comfortably. Try holding it another way without spilling any tea, such as with the base on the paw of your hand. How does the weight of the cup shift as you do this? What muscles in your arm do you notice more or less?
3. Sound: Use Yours Ears
Hearing dry tea: With the tea leaf between your index finger and thumb, hold it up to your ear and again roll it around gently. What sounds do you hear? Closing your eyes again may help you notice sounds you didn’t find initially. You may want to roll it a bit harder and see what other sounds this makes.
Hearing liquid tea: If you brewed your tea in your cup, what sound did the water make as it heated? Putting fresh water in your kettle, turn it back on and see what sounds you can hear as it heats. If you poured your tea into your cup, did you notice the sound it made while going in? Re-pour the tea if you want to experience this again.
4. Smell: Use Your Nose
Smelling dry tea: Now hold the leaf up to your nose; if your first leaf broke while listening to it, take another full leaf. What smells do you notice? Our sense of smell is most intimately connected to our memory. Does your mind bring forward any memories or thoughts as you do this?
Smelling liquid tea: Place your nose directly above your cup and take in the smell. What different scents can you make out? Does your mind bring forward any memories from these sensations?
5. Taste: Use Your Mouth
Tasting dry tea: Now take a full leaf and put it on the tip of your tongue, being careful not to chew or swallow it. Initially what do you taste? Still without chewing, roll the leaf around in your mouth slowly and see what flavours come out. Let this happen for at least 15 seconds. Now lightly break the leaf in your mouth and let yourself experience any new flavours that arise. You may want to take the leaf out after this or, if very adventurous, can chew it some more and swallow.
Tasting liquid tea: Take a quick, slurping sip, trying to get the tea to the back of your tongue. Allow the flavour to come to you, even if you can’t name it right now. What flavours can you make out? Are there other sensations your mouth is noticing? Is the liquid thin or thick?
You can end there or finish with a basic grounding exercise of asking where you are (in a chair, in an office, in a building, etc.), when you are (time, date, year), and who you are (your name).
Thank you for honouring me with your time and attention.
For continued reading, you can learn about some of the alleged benefits of turmeric tea, or choosing a jar to make sun tea. Doesn’t catch your eye? No worries, about how learning a little bit about some of the best organic tea brands? Or just feel free to browse around on your own, we’re sure there’s something here that will catch your interest!