In Zen Buddhism we don’t normally use commandments as hard and fast rules, but “Drink your tea!” is like a Zen commandment to bring you back to your true home.
Don’t think. Be there, body and mind united. Establish yourself in the here and the now. You are true. You are not a phantom; you are real, and you know what is going on. What is going on is that there is a cup of tea in your hands.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh. The Art of Communicating
I’ve always loved tea because I’m usually cold and it makes me warm. I didn’t even care what type of tea it was – I was drinking it for the hot water. As a result, I made it not that strong and I would drink tea all day long!
When I started traveling to Asian countries, I was super annoyed when I ordered tea at a fancy restaurant and got a super tiny cup of it.
At least in the U.S., you get a bigger teapot to go with the small cup. In Europe, you get a normal size cup and they get confused when you want a hot water refill. I would never go to Starbucks specifically in the U.S., but in Europe I loved it – it was the only place I could get a HUGE cup of tea!
The first time I was fully exposed to Ayurveda was when I did a detox retreat at the Manaltheeram Ayurveda Resort in India. I learned that it’s good for me to drink ginger tea first thing in the morning.
I also learned more about the effect of spices and herbs through Ayurveda, and I started seeing tea a bit differently. I’ve been drinking one cup of ginger tea in the morning and just hot water throughout the rest of the day (instead of tea!) during the rest of the day.
According to Ayurveda, it’s important to drink water warm and very rarely cold as cold constricts your passages and makes it hard to for food and toxins to get through to be eliminated. I realized that I was drinking “tea” because it was socially acceptable (including to myself) to drink hot water in the form of tea – it’s a bit weird in Western countries to drink hot water by itself. I know because I’ve ordered it in restaurants…
Sometimes I’ll drink another type of tea in the evening (one that will help me sleep for example), but it is now with a specific purpose instead of just to drink the hot water.
I’ve been doing this as part of my daily Ayurveda ritual for over a year now. But it is only this morning that something changed and I understood the tiny tea cups!
I’ve been practicing doing as many things as I can mindfully throughout the day. This morning, I applied this to my morning ginger tea for some reason. Funny how that just happens.
First, I realized that I still saw drinking tea as a casual thing. Now a todo item in my morning Ayurveda checklist of self-care. I realized that I’ve been drinking my tea fast to get it over with and get on with my morning.
Today, I mindfully slowed down. I ended up drinking the tea slowly, taking my time with each sip. I realized that if you drink the tea slowly, a small cup would be perfect! It’ll cool the tea you’re about to drink while keeping the rest of the tea in the teapot still hot for the next set of sips.
I also noticed how each sip made me feel. How spicy the ginger was.
I immensely enjoyed the experience and will be drinking my tea more mindfully moving forward. Small tea cups already ordered on Amazon! Another daily chore turned into a daily spiritual experience!