Recently, I have been digging into my collection of precious vintage teas. These vintage teas were harvested at least 30 years ago. What makes them so precious is not the age but the love, passion, care and respect for the Mother Nature behind the growing of the tea trees and making of the tea – i.e. the stories of the people, the teas and the locations.
Each of these teas came from the place where organic farming was the tradition. It is raw and authentic – a place where people have no care about the organic labelling or any labelling at all. Its quality speaks for itself.
So, when it comes to drinking these vintage teas, I naturally want to pay the homage by creating a sacred space to brew and taste the tea with certain ritual.
First, I find or create a space that is free of clutter. It can be as small as an A3 size table matt. Then I start decorating this defined space with the tea pot, cups and other accessories. There are some recommendations on how you can organise this scared space. However, the importance is to make this sacred space as aesthetically pleasing as you wish.
Once this is set up to my heart’s desire, I rinse all the tea pot and cups with the hot water. Next, I pour the tea leaves into the empty tea pot (which by now should be warm) and gently shake the tea pot to allow the tea leaves to shift inside the pot. The mild heat inside the tea pot can stimulate the tea leaves to release the aroma.
At this point, I usually take a deep breath of this aroma into my lungs. As the aroma moves inside my body, I can sense my brain cells starting to tingle all senses. Sometimes I can identify from the aroma elements about the tea and its origin (e.g. forest, flower, soil, air etc.).
While this sensual experience lingers, I pour the hot water and brew the tea*. With the vintage tea, I would rinse the tea leaves with hot water first and then brew the tea. For the first and second brew, it takes about 30 seconds to 1 minute. From the third brew onwards, the time of brewing gets extended a bit longer and the temperature of the water is higher – so to allow the water to sip deeper into the leaves and extract the flavours.
When the tea is ready, I sip and let the tea linger in my mouth for a bit – in the same way as wine tasting. In this stage, I get to taste the deeper layer of the tea aroma. After swallowing the tea, I would sit in silence and let the after-taste to surface. Each tea has its own tempo and tickles different part of our body. This is when I start to connect deeper.
This whole ritual is effectively a form of meditation or mindfulness practice. It would be a lie if I claimed to enter into the Samadhi all the time! The connection can vary and depend on the condition I am on the day. Sometimes this is a sacred space where my focus and awareness are enhanced – both in life and in work. The quieter I become, the more distractions get stripped away. In turns, I gain the clarity and can stay on track with my goals.
“How long will this whole process take?”, one may ask. It can be as short as 10 mins to 1 hour or more. It is entirely depending on how you want to manage your time.
For someone who is completely new to this, I would suggest starting with something simple. A simple 10-minute tea time can be done with brewing some tea leaves in a tea cup or bowl. If you have 30-minute to spare, you can set up your sacred place more elaborately.
To get to know more about tea tasting and tea meditation, you can start by finding a 10-minute slot for yourself each day and repeat this routine consecutively for 21 days. In that period, remember to have fun to experiment with different types of teas and see what you get out of it each time.
*The temperature of the water will depend on the type of tea chosen. It is useful to ask the person who sells you the tea. Otherwise, if such information is not available, the general rule goes like this:
- Black Tea, 90~95°C
- Oolong Tea, 80~90°C
- Green Tea, 75~85°C
- Rooibos / Herbal Tea, 90~95°C
Making and drinking tea is an experience and pleasure. Have fun with experimenting with different approach and enjoy each moment.
About Stephanie Luo
Stephanie (aka Chief of Creativity of Luxe Nova) is an organisational coach, accredited by the Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership. She is specialised in (i) consultation and communication, (ii) executive coaching, (iii) team coaching, (iv) senior leadership development and (v) crisis management. Her working style is personable, focus and effective - and she provokes performance.
She has been incorporating mindfulness practice, mediation and other alternative approaches into her work with senior executives in the international corporate, achieving positive shifts in these clients and their immediate surrounding (including raising the workplace health and staff engagement and performance).
Her take-on of incorporating the alternative approaches stems from the belief that (i) these alternative approaches are great support system for one's own wellbeing (especially, mental wellbeing) and (ii) when the leaders take charge of their own wellbeing, they are in a powerful position to influence people and raise the workplace health.
Having been practicing Reiki since 2009, she has been exploring various healing modalities (with scientific support and evidence) and led to discover the use and healing benefit of the singing bowls (including Tibetan singing bowls).