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The Ritual Of Tea

Why tea is more than just a drink.

The good old fashioned British 'cuppa' is a worldwide institution.

Brits are known for their love of tea all over the world.

A cup of strong tea can seemingly solve any problem.

If a friend visits you after their entire world has just collapsed, in desperate need of some TLC and good advice, even the mention of 'shall I put the kettle on' will see at least a 50% improvement in their wellbeing, instantly.

A cup of tea punctuates the day. It's sociable, warming, reliable, cosy.

How many drinks can you say that about?

Even its somewhat cooler and more sophisticated cousin, Coffee, doesn't share these endearing attributes. Coffee has lots of unique qualities, but many of them are related to getting an energy kick, hanging out in coffee shops where you get served by a barista, and understanding the latest coffee concoction lingo. Coffee is a bit too cool for school.

Tea, on the other hand, has no such airs and graces. It's happy to be ordinary. Although, you can cause an entire nation to gasp collectively if you were to put your milk in the cup in the wrong order, and they will similarly grimace when you mention that you'll have your brew "with four sugars".

Simplicity is the true beauty of tea. Even when you venture out to the furthest extreme away from the homeliness of a milky, sugary, English breakfast tea to the slow rituals of pouring a loose-leaf green tea in the mountains and temples of China, there is a simplicity and warmth that is beautiful.

Those zen-like rituals are all about appreciation of not just the tea but also the process of the tea. They are mindfulness meditations. The selecting of the leaves and examining them, paying respect and gratitude to the growing and picking processes, nature and man working together. The hot water is symbolic of the duality of life, the form and the formless, watching as the steam floats out from the spout of the pot. The pouring process, as the leaves surrender themselves to the water and create the tea itself. The holding of the cup, the lifting to the lips, the smell of the tea, and then the gentle sipping of the hot drink. And, then again the gratitude and appreciation.

And so, from the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas to the rainy doorsteps of Northern England, the simple process of pouring hot water onto dried leaves miraculously capture the hearts and minds of the world.

I believe tea actually makes the world a better place.

Right, I'm off to put the kettle on.

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