Herbal Tea Ceremonies are a pleasant strategy to discover magnificence within the on a regular basis. By slowing down and getting to higher know our plant allies, we are able to concurrently confide in heartfelt reference to ourselves and/or others. Making the time and area to carry your individual private natural tea ceremony—or with a buddy, your loved ones, or a gaggle—is a low-impact, easy act of delight that may elevate the vibe of any day!
Tea Ceremonies are historically held honoring the plant Camellia sinensis (Theaceae), who holds dibs to the widespread title “tea,” in its many types of white, inexperienced, oolong, black, and pu’erh (a post-fermented sort of tea). Because of tea consuming’s recognition, its widespread title has spilled over into the natural world of tisane, or infusion-making, and is often known as natural tea, though precise tea just isn’t within the beverage.
We are certainly dwelling in unprecedented instances, the place the wild fusion of historically distinct food, drink, dance, music, and extra is quickly altering tradition. This mixing of customs opens up the door to creating our personal ceremonies and traditions that resonate with our present sense of place and modern-day existence. Herbal tea ceremonies are one instance of those newly evolving customs. However, displaying appreciation and respect for the cultures that we acquire inspiration, data, and course from is essential in forming these new ceremonies.
A Dip into the History of Tea
Originating in China, tea tradition is huge and various, because it has been round for hundreds of years, inside a number of nations in Asia. One legend says that whereas in his courtyard quenching his thirst, some leaves of a Camellia sinensis tree/bush by accident fell into Emperor Shen Nong’s cup of scorching water and thus the brew was found!1 Not solely did this brew style good, it was discovered to have medicinal qualities as nicely: antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties and mood-enhancing qualities with energizing results. The mixture of taste and properties have drawn folks into tea’s spell from all around the world, making it the most well-liked beverage of all time!
Different Traditions of Tea Culture
The recognition of tea birthed complete tea cultures, and Asia is well-known for its tea ceremonies, a few of which nonetheless stay unadulterated by colonization. From the course you progress your fingers and vessels, the order with which you put together the tea—to how the vessels are organized, what every sip symbolizes, and what number of sips are allowed to correctly drink the tea—are simply a few of the rites which have remained robust in tea ceremony for hundreds of years.
In China, some tea bushes are over a thousand years outdated. Cultivation has been mastered to search out probably the most distinctive and wealthy flavors. These totally different types of Camellia sinensis yield distinct tastes which can be explored within the conventional Chinese tea ceremony. The flavors also can differ broadly as a result of processing of the leaves, the temperature and sort of water, steeping period, sort of vessel, and the way the leaves are stirred. During the Song dynasty, tea was named as one of many “Seven Necessities” of life (firewood, rice, oil, salt, sauce, and vinegar being the opposite six).2
In Japan, inexperienced tea has been broadly favored. Self-discipline and consciousness play part of the tea ceremony; and silently following the lead of the host is essential, besides that the host is not going to drink the tea, as it’s ready solely for the friends. Zen within the Art of the Tea Ceremony is an in-depth look into the spirituality and tales of the Japanese tea ceremony. The dealing with of the tea bowl may be very vital, and symbolism is a big a part of what makes it a ceremony. For occasion, the sound of the water boiling within the kettle symbolizes the singing of the wind within the pines, and the supporting hand and the greedy hand for the tea vessel deliberately transfer to grow to be one hand, creating concord.3
In different cultures, tea has manifested totally different ceremonies—the tea tradition of Russia makes use of tea glass holders known as podstakannik, and the stronger the tea, the extra beneficiant the host. If you have been to take part in a Myanmar tea ceremony, you’d most likely not solely drink tea, however eat the tea as nicely, known as lahpet, or pickled tea leaves. In Tibet, butter, milk, and salt could be brewed with the tea and a strict algorithm would regulate the ceremony. In Vietnam, probably you’d have jasmine (Jasminum sambac) blossoms added to your drink. My Taiwanese buddy launched me to bubble (boba) tea, a candy model of tea brewed with tapioca pearls that has grow to be highly regarded world wide. India produces extra tea than wherever else on the planet; the beverage often called chai (which is definitely the Hindi phrase for tea), is brewed with different Indian spices and has grow to be in style within the West. Travelers alongside the Silk Road from India introduced tea to Iran (Persia) the place Iranians tailored it by placing a lump of rock sugar of their mouth earlier than consuming the tea. Egypt’s nationwide drink is now tea, however tisanes like hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) and mint (Mentha spp.) are rising in recognition.4
Colonization and the Continued Spread of Tea Culture
Certainly colonization has performed a task in each altering and spreading the follow of tea consuming all around the world. Countries that previously grew tea for themselves have been compelled to extend their manufacturing on plantations with a purpose to meet the rising calls for of their colonial rulers. India could have been extra strongly affected than some other nation due to British colonization—giving over complete areas of their nation to the manufacturing of teas like Assam, Darjeeling, and Nilgiri.
The United Kingdom wholeheartedly embraced tea consuming, and to today one can hardly consider Great Britain with out considering of teatime. Tea equates with a mid-day break within the UK (“afternoon tea”), however within the United States, most folk understand it as iced tea, sweetened or unsweetened.4 Importers of tea, just like the Czech Republic, provide varieties from across the globe in casual tea homes and commenced the Dobra Tea Collective in 1992. These sorts of tea homes are arising all around the world the place folks come to socialize and/or calm down, whereas consuming tea.5 Most usually there’s a subcategory on the menu that features natural tea choices.
Wild Tea Ceremonies
Imbibing vegetation infused for his or her medicinal advantages and/or good taste is rising in popularity in lots of nations via the car of tea tradition mixed with a longing to dwell extra merely, and know-how to make our personal food, drink, medication, and leisure. Returning to the less complicated issues in life, now we have the liberty to create our personal wild, or natural, tea ceremonies. This can deliver a serenity into our usually hectic lives. Buddhist monk and trainer Thich Nhat Hanh speaks usually of the peace that comes with consuming tea:
Tea is usually a car of focus for returning to our heart and invoking peace and calm.
An Herbal Tea Ceremony Story
A number of years in the past, a really expensive buddy of mine, Jessie Wilder, urged we host what she named an “Appalachian Tea Ceremony” at a summer season gathering we each attend yearly. She selected the title Appalachian Tea Ceremony as a result of we dwell within the Blue Ridge Mountain vary of the Appalachians the place we drink day by day infusions of vegetation that we develop and wildcraft. (We drink a variety of weeds.) This concept to co-create a ritualized area and serve native, natural tea in a ceremonial manner was proper up my alley! An alternative to be in sacred area with the vegetation that develop round my dwelling that I so deeply know and love woke up inspiration for what would grow to be dozens of natural tea ceremonies.
We obtained such constructive suggestions from all who participated; after which a number of folks started asking if I might do it extra usually. So, I started internet hosting these sorts of tea ceremonies by donation, twice a month on our farm. Robin Harford of the UK highlighted the ceremonies on his EatWeeds Podcast after which Steve Lorch, a US tea grower, attended an Appalachian Tea Ceremony and wrote about it in his guide How to Make and Grow Tea in the United States. It grew to become evident to me that this was considered one of my callings—holding ceremony whereas consuming herbs—and I’m dedicated to doing tea ceremonies for the remainder of my life!
Creating an Herbal Tea Ceremony
So how do you create an natural tea ceremony, and what occurs throughout one? There isn’t any handbook on the matter, however from my understanding of ceremony, there are specific elements that want together with to make it an precise ceremony as a substitute of a hangout fest. Knowing the aim, creating the setting, and providing a ready sequence of move—together with a proper starting and ending—are the details to be noticed in making a tea ceremony. The Appalachian Tea Ceremonies that I host are extra within the fashion of a Korean tea ceremony the place there may be an ease, inside a proper setting, that permits for extra number of dialog, kinds of tea, and selections in the best way to sit. A heightened respect for the tea(s) being served is essential, however how the move of an natural tea ceremony unfolds is usually a artistic course of that evolves with expertise. An hour to an hour and a half is loads of time to carry an impressive tea ceremony. I like sharing the way in which I’ve realized to carry tea ceremonies, however please really feel inspired to make your individual ceremony from the guts!
The objective of holding an natural tea ceremony is to honor the herbs themselves, pay respect to the straightforward but profound act of consuming tea, and to hear deeply. Common vegetation can transport us right into a therapeutic area that alone we could not have the ability to entry as simply. In an natural tea ceremony, we maintain area for each other and ourselves to really feel the refined rising of energies that accompany no matter plant is being drunk.
Preferably, natural tea ceremonies are held outside, but when the climate just isn’t conducive, a well-lit indoor area will do. It is necessary to have the ability to see the tea and the vegetation which can be making the tea. Items that you will want to your tea ceremony are seats—whether or not pillows, or flooring or folding chairs—a centerpiece, vessels that maintain the tea and vessels/cups for consuming the tea, and ideally, examples of the vegetation that shall be shared. Creating the setting just isn’t a sophisticated affair. Create an area that’s lovely, snug, and in concord with the variety of folks that may attend. If somebody doesn’t present up as meant, take away their seat and cup earlier than serving tea.
In an natural tea ceremony, the tea is often ready beforehand for the sake of time and ease. It would take a variety of tools to make the tea on the ceremony itself, and it could take hours when you select to infuse the herbs strongly. Traditional tea ceremonies have ceremonial preparation of the tea with the friends, so that is one huge distinction between the 2 ceremonies.
Once everybody has gathered, start by taking a number of moments of silence. I ring a bell to begin. Invite these in attendance to open their hearts and follow deep listening to one another and to what they might be feeling. I’m not going to inform you step-by-step what occurs in my Appalachian Tea Ceremony for brevity’s sake, and since the sequence content material is supposed to be distinctive with the objective of making your individual natural tea ceremony. There isn’t any proper or fallacious move, so long as you’re clear on the aim, have ready the setting, and observe an intentional sequence.
Next, provide a ritualized presentation of the tea. How you serve the tea needs to be constant for every visitor. Invite your friends to watch how they drink the tea. Listen to the sound of the tea being poured. Look at its coloration. Smell its aroma. Feel its heat. As the host, pay attention to how the group is interacting with the tea. I as soon as led a tea ceremony the place I served roasted dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root I had dug up the day earlier than. It was fascinating to see the collective power of the group grow to be virtually sedated, as in the event that they have been sinking deep roots into the earth. When the ceremony was over, no one wished to face up! We all felt so grounded and content material.
Once everybody has had the chance to style the tea, share your data and expertise, or perhaps a story, in regards to the specific plant buddy or buddies featured within the tea. Then open the chance for others present to do the identical. Personally, I’m happiest when the tea ceremony is between 7 and 12 folks. Any greater than that and it turns into onerous to maintain the intimacy. I’ve discovered that the natural tea ceremony is simply as a lot an infusion of individuals as it’s of vegetation!
In closing the ceremony, I prefer to take any leftover tea that individuals could not have completed and have them give it again to the earth with a prayer. If their cup is empty, they might select to only stroll over and contact the earth. You can resolve your individual closing rites that resonate for you, however make these rites as intentional as you probably did the opening of the ceremony so there’s a sense of completion.
Herbal Teas Used in Ceremony
There are infinite teas one can use in an natural tea ceremony as there are numerous herbs! I like to include herbs that I develop or wildcraft to maintain it honest to those Appalachian Mountains, however you possibly can maintain natural tea ceremonies with herbs you purchase or obtain from afar—it’s all as much as you! Here are some good issues to recollect although:
1) Your viewers
Depending on the folks in attendance, you could need to stick to easy, simple, good-tasting herbs. If it’s an herbally skilled group, then department out. The herbs do not must style good to make for a profitable natural tea ceremony. We have jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum) rising in our backyard, and personally I feel the style is horrible. But I do know the plant is superb, and brings good health and a very good feeling, so I serve it anyway.
2) Potential allergic reactions
Ask forward if anybody attending has any allergic reactions to herbs so you do not unknowingly hurt them. I served Kentucky Colonel Spearmint (Mentha spicata cv) as soon as with out asking, and it turned out a girl present was allergic to mints! She smelled the mint tea first and didn’t partake understanding what it was from its unmistakable scent and her historical past with mints. Some folks have allergic reactions to chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) and different herbs within the Asteraceae/sunflower household.
3) Fresh vs. dried herbs
One of my favourite issues to do if I can, is serve the tea each recent and dried. The distinction in style and the strength of the properties of the natural tea will differ relying on the age and processing of the plant materials. Juliet’s Herbal Infusions and Decoctions, Preparing Medicinal Teas weblog walks you thru the step-by-step methodology of constructing each dried and recent natural infusions.
Beloved Herbs for Tea
Here are a few of my favourite herbs to make use of when making natural tea. Such beautiful darlings…
From the Garden
- Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum Ocimum tenuiflorum)
- Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
- Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
- Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
- Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
- Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
- Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
- Nettle (Urtica dioica)
- Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
- Birch (Betula lenta)
- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
- Plantain (Plantago)
- Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
- Burdock (Arctium lappa)
The Joy of Herbal Tea Ceremony
Whether collaborating in an natural tea ceremony is new to you or not, keep in mind that the plant beings are a lot older than us people, and have for millennia introduced pleasure and luxury into our lives. There doesn’t should be something sophisticated about an natural tea ceremony, and holding one for your self is tops for self-care. I can’t consider a extra easy pleasure than lighting a candle or feeling the solar’s rays alight upon my face whereas sitting with a recent, heat brew of natural tea and reflecting upon the wonders of the world.
- “Tea’s Wonderful History.” Chinese Historical and Cultural Project web site. http://chcp.org/virtual-museum-library/teas-wonderful-history/.
- Wang Lei. “The Essentials.” https://www.theliftedbrow.com/liftedbrow/2018/2/23/the-essentials-by-lei-wang TLB Society Inc.; 2020.
- Hammitzsch H. Zen within the Art of the Tea Ceremony. Avon; 1980.
- “Tea Culture.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_culture
- “Tea Rooms from Around the World.” (*4*)