It has now been around 8 years since I first fell in love with loose leaf tea. At the start for me really it was just a beverage as I had been brought up on standard black tea tea bags with lots of milk and sugar. However, as the years has gone by what tea is to me has changed a lot and honestly maybe a year into my loose leaf tea journey is where tea started to transform into something that was way more than just a beverage for me.
When I first got into loose leaf tea, like almost everyone else who loves tea my journey started with different flavoured loose leaf teas and they were what originally inspired me to start my blog. While I don’t really drink many flavoured teas these days, I still appreciate the experiences I had that were centred around them, the thing I learnt from them and the fact that I wouldn’t have my blog without them. Everyone has to start somewhere don’t they?
Starting my blog has helped me learn so much about tea and learning more about tea is what made tea into so much more than just a beverage for me. The more teas I tried from companies all around the world, the more my respect and passion grew and continues to grow until this day. Not only that, but for me tea now is kind of my career, I have to work everything around my chronic pain but the fact that I get to say that is still very shocking to me. It’s a world away right now from being something I can say is enough to earn a living off of but one day I hope it will get to that point. The great thing about it is that I am fully in charge and I just work when I’m able to which is so perfect for my current situation. Who knows what is to come in the future maybe someone out there can teach me how to manifest great things.
As I’ve learned more, my preferences in tea have definitely changed and I now mostly enjoy true / traditional teas only, most of them being from Japan (as I am sure you will know), but I also enjoy many other teas from China and Taiwan among other places. Should my pain levels be low enough I will always prepare these high quality teas traditionally with the teaware they are meant to be brewed in to get the most out of them, taking in those traditions from cultures all around the world. By preparing these teas in those ways, tea to me has taken on a whole new meaning and has become somewhat of an escape for me, and in saying that what I mean is that it has become such a meditative practice for me in a number of ways that revolve around two specific different practices from two different areas of the world.
Matcha – If I just want a break from the world I take a around half an hour of of my day to prepare Matcha and let go of everything on my mind, to be present and release any tension from my body. As someone who suffers with a chronic illness, this small amount of time in my day when I am not in too much pain is such a great way to get a little bit of an escape from almost constantly being in some sort of pain. The pain is still there of course but it enables me to become much more relaxed and gives me a break from constantly having to focus on fighting the pain. It sounds like a lot but it’s worth it, the meditative experience when preparing Matcha traditionally is much more all encompassing and definitely allows for more of a disconnect from the world, where you can be present and focus on the tea and nothing but the tea and you can relax your mind and body like you never have before. A lot of the process of preparing Matcha this way requires me to go slow, take my time and be more patient than I would be in other parts of my life, after a while I started to see that I began to implement the things I had learnt from Matcha much more in my daily life and I have no doubt about the fact that I have become a much better person because of it it’s also helped me to realise how important inner peace is. I also like to prepare my Matcha away from home outside in nature (preferably).
As I said earlier as well I do mostly drink Japanese teas and my favourite thing to do with them is to have outdoor sessions with them either preparing in a Kyusu or a Houhin surrounded by nature in a nice quiet environment where I can focus on tranquillity and again just relax, let my body take in the fresh air, if the location I’m in happens to have a beautiful view that’s even better. Of course I drink these teas at home as well and I enjoy them just as much, but enjoying them outdoors in the fresh air surrounded by nature is a really all encompassing experiences and something about it definitely takes those teas to a whole other level and I find my tasting notes become much more descriptive and I’m able to pick out many more thing because I am away from my home and the smells within it they my distract me.
GongFuCha – As I mentioned earlier I do drink many other teas aside from my Japanese teas. Mostly Oolongs from China and Taiwan, but I do like a black tea as well. With teas like that, I like to prepare them GongFu style as when my pain levels are low enough, I am able to. Like with the Matcha, preparing them in a traditional way with my Gawain and all of the other tools involved with gongfucha allows me to focus on preparing the tea, focus in on all of my senses to appreciate the aromas and the taste and again teaches me to be patient and appreciative of all of the work that has gone into creating the phenomenal high quality teas I am lucky enough to get to try.
An again just like the Matcha and Japanese teas I love to do GongFu sessions outdoors if I can. It takes the peacefulness and the relaxation to a whole different level, I feel as though I’m able to again focus on my senses and ground myself much more than I am able to when I’m surrounded by distractions. It gives me a little bit of a break from the stresses of day to day life and from fighting the pain that I am used to have to fight against all the time. I like to try as best I can to match the location to the tea I want to drink in that session as well as trying to match with current weather to the teas too. I like to create a full immersive experience around my tea to further amplify the ways in which is helps me break away from the work and be more mindful.
Tea to me is also knowledge and creativity, tea is an ever learning subject and with each and every day that passes I have been able to learn something new about tea which still shocks me because I have been doing this for so long now. But the great thing about that is that it’s never a subject I could get bored with because it’s always showing me new things, providing me with new experiences, helping me learn about cultures and on yet another level it’s helping me better myself as a person. When I say it’s creativity, I mean that because it inspires me to write endlessly, it allows me to keep pursuing another of my passions (photography) and fills me with endless artistic ideas. I had a really hard time at university and afterwards my creativity and passion dropped because of the mental effect that university and the people there had on me but tea has helped me find that again and I will forever be thankful for it.
Finally as this post is getting rather long now and I don’t want to bore you, tea to me is friendship because as a person who has struggled with not only chronic migraine but also bad anxiety and panic attacks, meeting new people and going out of my comfort zone has always been very hard, but the tea community is full of the most amazing, supportive incredible people and through it I have met the people who I would now call my best friends. They may be all around the world but that doesn’t matter because the tea brings us together and when I’m having a hard time or need help with something they are all always there and that warms my heart and definitely helps me throughout everything I do.
So there you go, that is what tea is to me. Let me know in the comments what tea is for you or write your own what is tea to me post and share it with me as I would love to hear what you answer would be to this question and see how our tea journeys / experiences differ.
Speak to you all again soon. Happy Steeping – Kimberley