A cozy fall evening and I hear my teapot calling my name. I slide on my favorite shaw, dim the lights, light my favorite candle as I peek through my apothecary cabinet to begin my favorite Fall Ritual. I tap the lever on my teapot. I feel my nervous system light up with chill bumps as I take some Saffron from the cupboard and bring the bright red threads up to my nose and inhale. I place the threads into a little steel tea steeper. I choose my prettiest tea cup from my collection and place on counter. Steam rises from the cup as I pour the water over my tea. I slice a lime on the side, a teaspoon of maple syrup. Oh so charming Tea is. It speaks to the very soul, doesn’t it? To look at the art of tea as a precious ritual, as well as our truest medicine is to look at our very life as medicine. The maple syrup in the tea is winter manifested, so it will lower the acid in the body so heartburn dissipates with this. Lime is cooling as well which makes lime a perfect additive for summer teas. Saffron is a powerful antioxidant as well as a natural anti depressant, which is just a couple of its benefits. So sipping this tea is sipping life’s many medicines. We are serving the very tissues of our bodies as well as lending love to our own spiritual practice.
The art of drinking tea began five thousand years ago. In Ayurveda it is an ever changing and seasonal based Dinacharya. We sip our medicines accordingly and joyfully. In Ayurveda, we are continuously practicing rituals that allow us to know ourselves on a deep level. Everything in moderation, including moderation. The beginning of mankind drank medicines. This ritual lives deep inside of us on a cellular level. It is Ancestral.
As a young American teenage girl, of divorced parents, I had very little culture or ritual. One of the reasons that I became so drawn to Ayurveda is the richness and depth that ritual has brought into my life. I feel that it is exactly what I yearned so deeply for in my youth. These rituals bring us closer to ourselves. They bring about an experience of self love.
On this earth, in all its magic, we are given every possible medicine that we need. Herbs speak to us. I nudge people to play in teas, because for some teas speak to certain people, and for others may bring disdain. Usually when we are drawn to a tea, it is because we either need it or it is of comfort to us. There is a world of selection to chose from! Creating a tea ritual can be a fun and exciting adventure. I like to give some easy and mellow selections to begin with that are universal to many ailments and then you can go from there and build.
Mint teas are nice and mellow for daytime. Black teas and Jasmine are very exotic and rich and even bitter. I prefer these in the evening time. Also do not begin with a bitter tea because it can turn a novice tea drinker away. Take some time before getting into intense teas. Chamomile is a good all around evening tea or bedtime tea. There are so many green teas to chose from that you can sip all day and the taste is very mild and hydrating. If you find it difficult to drink plenty of water for hydration, a decaffeinated green tea with stevia is a perfect substitute and very good for you. I make a pitcher of green tea everyday and I drink this over ice, especially in the summer. I enjoy tossing some blueberries or lemon slices in to infuse as well. So many options and the world gives us limitless choices. Play with what you love in your teas!
Becoming a tea savant takes some navigation but even more importantly, allow yourself to be curious! This is a life changing habit that builds upon itself. Here are some tips to take your tea times to new levels.
1. Avoid over seeping! All teas have a time frame for seeping. Usually around 3 to five minutes, but do your research. There are more delicate teas that will take 90 seconds and others that can be seeped up to six. But remember the sweet spot is generally around three minutes. If tea is over seeped, it can be skunked. I have skunked many a pitcher of tea by forgetting to set my timer. These days, my Alexa keeps me straight. How can you tell your tea is skunked? The color changes to brownish and the taste is heavy. You will know as you move into your practices.
2. Much like cooking, there are times that you will want to keep a light cheese cloth or some sort of cover over your tea. In tea culture we learn that plants have spirits and when we take herbs and seep them, it brings their spirit back to life! We want to keep the spirit of the key into the cup. So try to get into the practice of putting something over the tea while it's seeping.
3. Remember that herbs pick YOU. What draws you in? What repels you? Herbal Hunts during Full Moons with other herb loving friends are so exciting. Under a Full Moon certain herbs are more noticeable for plucking. This is nature’s way of guidance. I have always been strangely drawn to cardamon. It is one of my favorite herbs. I can’t describe how much that I love and adore this little pod. It’s scent and flavor. It is also a natural anti inflammatory. Maybe this is why I love it so much? Because it helps with my seasonal arthritis. I notice that in the winter, hibiscus is repulsive, but in the summer I love its tartness. Because Hibiscus is so cooling and hydrating for summer months. So pay attention to what draws you in. This is always a way that your body talks to you. Also speaking to an Herbalist is important. Herbs should always be taken with care and instruction if in doubt. And as always ask your doctor if they are contraindicative to your pharmaceuticals.
4. Tea time is at 2:00 pm! A staple practice in Ayurveda is following the time clock. Between 2pm and 6pm is Vata time. This is the time for us to slow down, reflect, and open the doors to creativity. I devote part of this time to making an afternoon tea and reading poetry or writing in my journal. It is a lovely time for reflection. Its a sweet time to make a tea or share with a friend. During my afternoon Gentle Yoga class I had began the ritual of bringing tea for my class after we practiced. I like a good focus blend like peppermint, or even Jasmine can be nice during this time. Play during this time with rich black or red teas once you become familiar with the tastes that you prefer. Begin to play with teas that have more depth. Tea drinking can be compared to wine drinking in this way. You begin with sweet or mellow teas and then work into more bitter or bolder flavors as you fall in love with the practice.
5. Cold or hot can depend on the season. I avoid drinking iced tea in the winter, while summer is the time for iced teas. This balances the body. It is also important to pay attention to what we need. Sipping warm water or tea every thirty minutes in the winter can keep digestion moving and dryness out. And adding lime or berries during summer to infuse can reduce heat in the body. There is so much variance seasonally. I also devote a lot of my time pulling my clients into Ayurvedic practices like these because we should be looking inward for healing. Allowing our body to be having conversations to us about what we need daily. Empowering ourselves in rituals that heal. The more trips to your apothecary cabinet for teatime lessons the trips to your local pharmacy.
6. Remember that it is not just the tea that speaks to the soul. It is an entire artistic adventure. I like to cut a lime or lemon to add to my green teas. Even grapefruit can add some sweet and bitter to a mellow light green tea. Russians use dark cherry syrup to sweeten and I have learned to make my own. Add this richness to a nice bold Jasmine or Black Oolong Tea. Agave Nector is super nice for sweetness. Honey should be used in the winter because it is a fire energy and breaks up mucous and is good for prevention of a cold. Maple syrup is better for summer time because as a winter energy it is good for over heating and heart burn. My go to is Chamomile for the evenings because it is a flavor that I enjoy year round. Chamomile is so perfect for evening wind down time. You can crush up your favorite fruits like peaches or cherries and boil them down with sugar to make a syrups for sweetening. I love Elmwood Inn for buying in bulk. The Reiki Blend has seven healing flowers that are of the seven chakra colors. It is magical.
7. Remember that tea time is an event! A celebration. Spend time and thought about your surroundings and the area that you will enjoy your tea. I have an entire collection of antique china tea cups. All different and beautiful. I have spent time collecting them from shops and many of my clients now bring me a tea cup as a gift. I like to take a moment to chose my teacup every day for this precious time. It is very important to enjoy every moment. Dinacharyas are here to bring us continuously back into the present moment.
These are some of my favorite go-to teas and their health benefits:
Green tea is called the “wonder herb” because it has various health benefits. The presence of potent antioxidants called polyphenols helps to reduce free radicals. It is also used to prevent cancer as well as slow or diminish growth by some studies. I drink this tea everyday. It is my go to and has been for the last twenty years.
Mint Tea is good for focus. It is also good for aches and pains and nausea. This is a mild enough tea to be consumed anytime.
Chamomile tea aids to reduce our stress and helps to digest food. Chamomile is one of the best known popular herbs which is used all over the world. It secures peaceful sleep and reduces the problems of insomnia. It is perfect in the evenings.
Lavender Tea is one of the most medicinal teas available world wide. One of few essential oils with numerous healing powers. Lavender is good for reducing respiratory issues, cough, asthma , bronchitis and body temperatures as well as for treating fever.
Milk Thistle Tea helps to clean liver, and its components improve liver function. It also improves our digestive system through the production of bile.
Cardamom Tea is made from dried white cardamom flowers and the sweetly aromatic seeds. Cardamom tea has sweet, aromatic flavor. It helps to discard caffeine from our system. It is a comfort during PMS for women. It is also one of my favorite herbs to bake with because it has a comforting, sweet, and exotic flavor. Most definitely feminine.
Cinnamon Tea has many health benefits, and it is really easy to prepare. It is extremely beneficial for weight loss. It enhances our bodily strength to fight against viruses and also helps to control blood sugar. Cinnamon Tea becomes even more effective when it is blended with honey.
Rose hip Tea is a rich source of vitamin C, and it is the fruit of the rose plant. It is beneficial to our tissue health, adrenal function and skin and also helps to strengthen our immune system.
Ginger Tea increases our energy and also acts as a stimulator. It helps to digest our food and to control problems like nausea. The presence of anti-inflammatory properties makes it really helpful to Arthritic patients.
My humble wish with this article is for you to take your practice inward more and more. We can stay in union with our surroundings by communicating continuously through our plant world. Plants have a language all their own. The world is holy and sacred if we just look around and live in the sweetness.
As always, much love, and make LIFE your truest medicine!