Participate in a traditional tea ceremony, and you’ll be invited to give your full attention to the moment. You’ll awaken your senses, relax and rejuvenate. This is meditation in a cup, and you can find it at your favorite tea house.
“Going to a tea house is always a break from a busy day,” says Sara Martinelli, proprietor, tea blender and certified herbalist of the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. “Whether meeting a friend or a business colleague, taking a moment to enjoy a hot beverage in a social setting is good for the soul.”
Carole Alvarez, owner of iN-TEA in Littleton, couldn’t agree more. “In this tumultuous political climate and post-pandemic era, [drinking] tea gives us the opportunity to slow down, do something good for our bodies and to create solace or sociality.”
Indeed, the tranquil environment of a teahouse inspires a deep repose that you can’t always find at a bustling coffee shop. “So many of my regular customers tell me that, at the end of their day, they just want to come here to relax,” shares Tanya Lin, owner of the Yellow Mountain Tea House in Colorado Springs. “Coming into the tea house is like taking a pause in their lives.”
Some tea houses offer traditional tea ceremonies, which are designed to awaken the senses and deepen awareness of the moment. “Something as simple as listening to the pouring water, appreciating the movement of the rising steam and smelling the release of the oils in the tea provides a soothing mindfulness,” Alvarez adds. “You simply cannot rush the interaction of heating the water, measuring tea and steeping. It forces you to slow down, focus and exhale.”
Besides the enjoyable and meditative aspects of tea, many also offer health and wellness benefits. Growing up in China, Lin was frequently “prescribed” certain teas from her parents and grandfather, who was a doctor. “They would tell me to drink one tea before I went to sleep, another after I ate fried foods and another to prevent me from getting sick,” she recalls. Lin recommends a bold, ripe Pu-erh for those looking for heart health benefits, as it helps reduce high cholesterol and purify the blood. Looking for an alternative to your morning cuppa joe? Martinelli recommends an Assam tea, well-known for its robust and slightly malty flavor and aroma. “Assam teas are strong enough to stand up to the addition of milk and honey and are a great place to start for someone who is hoping to reduce their coffee intake,” Martinelli adds.
Tea is adaptable to many moods and needs. It can be a contemplative solo indulgence or a way to bring people together. Walk into your local tea house to explore not only a new tasting pleasure and wellness path but to raise your consciousness, too.
Photos courtesy of iN-TEA.
Originally published in Winter + Spring 2022-23 issue.