Thursday, April 4, 2019

What Tea Means To Me

I recently had the pleasure of co-hosting a British tea event with Ting of Mojoosh. We discussed British tea history and customs while sipping various teas in delicate porcelain cups, and nibbling scones with clotted cream. The discussion quickly turned more personal, with everyone sharing when they first experienced a sip of tea, and what it meant to them. Ting recently gave me her take on this special afternoon, saying:
Every photo I saw when we were studying, every story I heard during our discussion was like a wakening for me that the love of tea is truly universal through time, in spite of all the schemed plays in the history. So once for a while, why not have a nice cup of tea, in the English way, clotted cream, marmelade, scones, with some friends, old and new. This is delightful in our life.
Hearing these personal tea experiences inspired me to reach out to other tea friends and see what they had to say about their personal relationship with tea. I decided to create a post with a few of the responses, as they were so lovely to read. To get things started, here is what tea means to me, which includes a fond tea memory:

My experience with tea occurred while sitting at my grandparent's kitchen table, listening to the grown-ups talk about grown-up things. I was very close to my grandparents, visiting them about once a week. During those visits we often ended up with cups of tea and conversation. As a very young child I hated sitting still, forced to listen to the adults chat while they sipped mugs of hot tea. I wasn't usually offered tea at that age, but I did manage to sneak a sugar cube or two from an old chrome sugar caddy; the coveted prize dissolving on my tongue while I pretended there was nothing in my mouth. The sugar canister now sits on my kitchen shelf as a bittersweet reminder of precious memories.

The Sugar Caddy From My Childhood
Even though I didn't have much to add to the adult conversation, the ritual of taking tea with my family was lovingly etched in my mind. Just as it was back then, it's a moment to pause the day, share with loved ones, and enjoy a few special moments together. My love and knowledge for tea has grown since the days of stealing sugar cubes from my grandparents' table, but it remains a deeply personal experience. I try to savor every cup I make each and every day. I love sharing tea with family, friends, and co-workers, and capturing those moments on the blog.

Here are a few words from Susan Hamovitch, who attended our British Tea event:
One of the most pleasurable memories of tea is the ritual that formed around it, a purely personal family ritual, involving my mother or me saying, after we’d finished dinner, and my father had left the table and the dishes had been done, ‘would you like some tea?’ This was back in the 60’s so after one of us boiled the water, we whipped out a tea bag of some kind and poured the water directly into our small mugs, over the bags. (people did use loose tea in those days, with a vengeance in fact, with tea balls or strainers, but this was the suburbs, and it seemed, tea balls hadn’t made their way to these parts yet) We always added a dollop of whole milk. Mum was from Canada and had inherited this British custom.

And the way some people’s hearts and souls and mouths are lubricated with alcohol, ours was with tea. It seemed to warm and loosen our innermost thoughts and feelings. We would talk, just the two of us, about almost whatever we were thinking about — often for over an hour. The content of our conversations has blurred over these many years, but I remember how trusting, full of humor, and laughter, these tea-times were.

From Alexis Siemons, tea consultant and writer at Teaspoons and Petals:
Tea has become the constant in my daily life, however, it still remains a special ritual that I hold near and dear to my heart. The best way that I can express tea's meaning in my life is via the Japanese idiom, Ichi-go ichi-e, which translates to "for this time only" as it describes respecting a truly unique and unrepeatable moment. I treasure each tea leaf and understand how precious every sip is, as it reflects the terroir of the land where it was grown and yet becomes immersed into that very second where I am steeping it in my world (am I am home curled up by the kettle on a wintry day or listening to the spring birds sing beyond the sunny open window). I am grateful that tea carries such special meaning in my life, with the ability to anchor a moment and ground me in the present to truly be appreciative.
By Maria, who also attended the British Tea event:
When I was living in London tea was part of my daily life. Black tea with some milk (no sugar) always makes things look better. If you feel down "a cup o' tea" will take the worries away. And the secret? It's the best cure for hangovers!!

Words from Nicole Wilson, tea writer extraordinaire at Tea For Me Please:
Tea has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. It started with sharing milky, sweet mugs of Red Rose before bed. I treasured the time spent with my mother and it made me feel a bit more grown up. I also loved collecting the little figurines that came in each box of teabags. My early love for tea turned into a real passion during my college years. That road led me to start my blog and to work in several tea shops over the years. Since then tea has been a connective force in my life, opening doors to new experiences and meeting new people from across the world.

From from Kevin Gascoyne, tea writer, adventurer, and co-owner of Camellia Sinensis Tea House:
The leaf of this unique Asian tree strengthens our systems and balances our processes, enhances our days with soothing and stimulation, and improves our lives through cure and invigoration like no other. For me the ultimate tea experiences are those rare moments when we manage to summon all our focus. We block out the distractions of intellectual preconception, ignore our knowledge of region, manufacture and cultivar. We separate all that noise and centre in on the sensorial experience of the tea’s chemistry as it stimulates our senses, becoming completely immersed in the visceral effects of the mouthfeel, the body feel and the inner world of the flavour-profile. A precious connection with the essence of this fabulous plant.
All of the comments seem to revel in the magical feelings tea brings them, and those they share it with. I love how everyone had a different perspective but their love for tea is a common bond. I could go on and on, asking everyone I know what tea means to them, but I'd have a blog post the size of a novel (hmm...). I'm thinking of at least doing one more installment of this series, as there are many more people I'd love to ask.

So, what does tea means to you, dear readers? I'd love it if you'd leave your words in the comment section below! Perhaps they will inspire the second installment of this post...


  1. I grew up in South Carolina drinking sweet iced tea, with lemon. As I recall, back as far as I can remember, we always had a canister of this cold tea in the refrigerator. It was later, I believe in my teen years, that I began drinking hot tea. I imagine that my first cups were brewed with Lipton tea bags.

  2. Thank you so much for inviting me to contribute! I love reading everyone's perspectives. Tea is a common thread that connects us all :)

  3. I love this post! I came to love tea in university - I studied in Japan and there was always a tea in the cafeteria. What started as a daily habit became a passion and I'm not a tea addict (: