Infusing Tea as a Meditation
I believe that my mother gave me a great gift when she taught me to appreciate the infusion and drinking of tea rather than coffee. I have three brothers, all of whom were raised in the same household, but they all drink coffee.
My departed mother and I share what Buddhists call “monkey brains”. As soon as I become conscious in the mornings my mind is full of questions and ideas and plans and issues. If I did not get control of myself, I would begin to voice these thought patterns immediately in an attempt to examine each of them to exhaustion, driving the other members of my household to distraction I am sure. But I resist. This is just the beginning of a day full of such mental overload.
However, upon entering the sunny little kitchen, I begin my meditation. Drawing fresh spring water into the bright red kettle. When the whistle goes, I have already selected my tea for the morning (I have a rack of over 25 currently) and warmed my teapot du jour (I have several of those, too). Some teas I infuse from loose leaves, others from unbleached linen bags or the beautiful new pyramidal “silken” bags or the fascinating and exquisite “flower explosion” teas. I pour the water over the tea and snuggle the tea cozy over the pot.
My hands rest on the cozy for a few seconds.
My eagerness to experience the tea I have singled out for that morning focuses me.
When I finally pour the elixir into my bright white cup, the perfume and the color focus me again. I raise the cup to my mouth, inhale the bouquet and, finally, savor the taste. The sun on my body feels warmer (or the rain looks more jewel-like) and my mind is clear. Maybe not as clear as the tea in my cup, but certainly more tidy.
“Tea is good for you” my mother would say. I’m sure she was blissfully unaware of the actual health benefits of drinking tea of all colors and presentation styles; rather, her gift was the quiet and focus the preparation and drinking of tea could give me for the rest of my life. I believe she was fully aware of that….and my need for it.
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