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Warming the Soul

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Few things in life are better than a hot cup of tea at the end of a long day. Everything about my nightly cup of tea is ritualistic.  That is part of its charm, and its effectiveness. Choosing the tea, letting it brew, breathing in the warm steam, cozying up with the cup. Even thinking about it now sends chills down my spine and I have to force myself not to get up and make another cup.

I have always loved tea. I think it’s genetic. My mother has drawers and drawers full of all kinds of teas. When I was in college my mother and I went to London and brought back an entire suitcase full of Fortnum and Mason tea. My favorite by far is their Wild Strawberry, and I fly to England just for a cup of it. It’s addictive. Seriously addictive.

 I know that I am not alone in my nightly ritual, but over the years my evening cup of tea has become a friend of mine. When I cannot sleep, I have a cup of decaf peach tea. When I can no longer read the dozens of articles I have assigned for the week, I change into my bathrobe and brew a cup of chai. If I am agitated or frustrated, I enjoy a cup of Earl Grey. And when I have writer’s block with a term paper due the next day, I put on an entire pot, all for myself.

It’s something about the steam and the smell – the way the water slowly changes color as it is infused and becomes smokier or sweeter. I sit with my feet up on the couch, holding the hot cup in my hands, pressing it to my lips, and breathing in the steam - a warm hug from within. It has become an almost spiritual experience for me - my way of meditating, of remembering to breathe and relax. Reconnecting with myself and escaping the outside world if only for a few sips. If it weren’t for my nightly cup of tea (and the immense supply I keep in the pantry just in case of a national emergency), I have no doubt I would not be as centered.

We all forget to slow down, to really take things in. It’s trite, I know, but it’s true, as most clichés are. We all need rituals to help us refocus our minds, our bodies, and our hearts. I have discussed politics and religion, cried my heart out, comforted friends, and resolved issues with my parents – all over pots of tea. Tea is my emotional therapy and a dear, dear friend.



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