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Whether it's taking a daily ritual from expected to extraordinary or discovering the wonderment and beauty of anew travel destination, J.R. McCabe elevates the everyday with timeless taste and comfortable confidence.
I’ve been a tea drinker my entire life but when I married into an Irish family the ritual took on new heights. My mother-in-law, originally from Killarney in County Kerry, has a steaming kettle going day and night, 365 days a year. Her motto — a cup of tea is the answer for everything — and she may just be right! Teas nourish, sooth, and calm our state. Teas bring comfort, company, and consciousness, elevating ordinary moments. Whether it is British afternoon tea or the sacred Japanese tea ceremony — from preparation and presentation to physical benefit and aesthetic pleasure — a tea ritual invites us to rise to the occasion of a life lived in the here and now. In this beautiful moment as we sit, enjoying a warm elixir, the rest of the world fades into the background.
Here are my five tips for creating a meaningful afternoon tea time ritual:
Curate a Tea Selection
Curate a special selection of teas that you use just for tea time. They should be different from what you may drink in the morning when you first wake up or what you enjoy before bed. Step out of the typical black tea staples and explore green, oolong, white, and botanical varieties.
Afternoon tea should be met with a mindful transition. Acknowledge this time-honored sacred practice by intentionally removing yourself from the cares of the day for anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour. Release yourself from routine and receive ritual. This is your reset for the remainder of the day. Say farewell to what has come so far — the hectic pace, the work, the to-do list — and welcome the calm and nourishing evening hours ahead.
Embrace the Moment
I have cherished memories of visiting my grandmother either after school or on a weekend afternoon where she was sitting at her kitchen table or in her living room in the wingback chair with her fancy china tea cup in hand. Perhaps she was also enjoying Reader’s Digest or listening to music, but I remember the tea was the focus. That moment of having her afternoon tea an hour or so before starting dinner was a soul nourishing time for her. When you sit to enjoy your afternoon tea embrace the moment with complete devotion.
Use all your Senses
A little nosh or sweet treat is a lovely addition to afternoon tea. If you’re craving a bite have one. Whether or not you are adding mini gourmet delights to your ceremony be sure to make an effort to entice all five senses. Enjoy teas that have subtle fragrance — be it woodsy, fruity, earthy, or floral. What other scents are in the air? Perhaps the powdery sweetness of peonies or the divinity of a jasmine candle. Choose teas that transport you — to another place or time, or simply to full awareness of the here and now. What do you feel in your hands? The thin and scalloped handle of delicate china, the warmth of the tea through smooth pottery. You can put on soothing music or sit in silence and embrace the natural sounds of your environment — the birds, the tick of an old clock, the children playing in the yard. As you sit let your gaze be soft and fixed on something that makes your heart happy.
Rise to the Occasion
Tea time is your time to remember yourself, who you are beneath the obligations and responsibilities you carry and the roles you play. When you take time to remember yourself each day the world becomes clearer. You infuse the rest of your day with an intuitive spirit and a more meaningful, purposeful hue that has a deeper resonance than are often mechanical existence. Rise to the occasion of honoring yourself by putting away the phone, computer, and turning off the TV. Release from the mundane and step into the magic.
If you’re looking to start a tea time ritual or change things up with your current selection, here are my favorite tea brands and blends: