December 3, 2010

Tea Time, Excellent!

Tea bagging, it’s good for you!

Now, some may argue that I’m a fan of brewing because my Grandie is a Brit.

However, in truth, I remember my earliest tea party experience at age three at the local sushi bar. Munching on cured ginger, shoveling my toddler face with all things warm and yummy that were available, I got crazy with miso soup and a mild green tea. Add green tea ice cream to the situation and you’ve really got a tea party (especially for little ones who are sensitive to sugar and caffeine intake).

Water never really did the trick for me as a tyke, I liked juice, soda, milk and tea (yes that last two were definitely if not always together). The kettle (teapot) was on when I was sick with the flu along with chicken noodle soup, so I always associated tea with happiness because it always, sick or not, made me feel better.

Cut to years later, centuries, eons, decades (just two) and now I pack my tea on airplanes with me as an essential comfort to be had.  Screw the neck pillow and individually packaged pretzels or peanuts.  I’ll have my tea and drink it too!  I just ask for flight attendants to hand over hot water (in a cup mind you) and that’s it.

I explain that I tea bag with my tried and true favorites (Yogi Tea, Two Leaves & A Bud, Traditional Medicinals, Celestial Seasons and Mighty Leaf) and pop one out from my purse. It’s funny to me that flight attendants are always impressed and happy to oblige and even, gasp, refill.

Earl Grey was my go-to tea up until 2004 and then something happened… I began being more conscious of my body and my world.  I got into downward dog in community yoga classes in Santa Monica with my godmother, started to actually eat sitting down and include vegetables in my meals, and traveled to Europe for the better part of a year.  Traveling certainly exposed my taste buds to a wider variety of appreciation but you know what really brewed my bag?  When I went to a Traditional Chinese Medicine specialist to quit smoking cigarettes (yes it’s true, I puffed quite a bit on tobacco sticks, and I totally give credit to my Grandie for that one).  When I finished being cupped by my acupuncturist named Pindy (seriously, that was her name), I looked like I’d made out with a very suctiony octopus after my first appointment. She then gave me a run through of my new dietary restrictions: no cold/raw food, no sugar, no stimulants (coffee, caffeinated tea, spices, even cinnamon for crying out loud).  She said my organs needed gentleness and also I needed to break some associative habits with ye olde tobacco.

Coffee and cigarettes anyone?  Damn you Paris, Barcelona and Tom Waits!

My mission soon became spicing up my life legally within the laws decreed by Pindy.  Like an addict out on the loose, oh right I was, I began to scope out the tea selections of aisle four in Whole Foods like a kid in a candy store.  And you know what I found? Thousands of pretty packaged scrumdidliumptious tea to fill my mug that I’d never even knew existed.  Each week, I looked forward to how I was going to flavor my hot water.  Simple pleasures but necessary ones in the face of change, big change and I’ve never been happier since I found my treasure trove of tea.

Living in South Korea really spun my tea cup though.

In Asia, tea is no joke. It’s art, it’s fortune telling, it’s a spiritual practice and it’s your medicine for the organs, the mind and the spirit.  Herbal tea is the new coffee and it doesn’t deplete you or stain your teeth.  And there are gradients of caffeine if you want to give yourself a little rev or make a smoother transition from the cuppa joe jitters.

Hello Organic Gen Mai Cha (translation: green tea with roasted rice) from Two Leaves & A Bud, one of my new personal favorites.  That reminds me, thank you Phil for lending me some of your stash at Gate 35 this Thanksgiving.  Instead of bumming cigarettes, we can now safely bum tea bags and we don’t have to meet in secluded, sad reserved areas to do so (buh-bye airport smoking sections).

Drinking tea is the one thing I know I’m doing every day to enjoy my life more and I didn’t even realize it.

It’s the healthiest habit I have, it’s my meditation, it’s my “me time” that I used to have with cigarettes.  It’s how I start almost every day, every meal and end every night. It’s my fireside chat, it’s my pacifier, it’s my “make it better” remedy for any and all moments.   If being addicted to herbal tea is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

Tea party on (and please for the love of 1773, not with Sarah Palin), my brothers and sisters.

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