Afternoon Tea: The Ritual
I love Afternoon Tea, so much that I have it every day. When most people hear the phrase "Afternoon Tea" they think of fancy tables set with china cups and saucers, tiny sandwiches with their crusts cut off, scones, clotted cream, jam, and fancy pastries. Maybe even harp music and women wearing hats. But for me Afternoon Tea is a ritual, the details of which can vary depending on the day and the occasion.
Right around 3pm, when the afternoon slump hits, getting up to make a cup of tea takes me out of the hustle and bustle. I get my cup, choose my tea, and head to the kitchen. If I'm home I put the kettle on and wait for it to boil. If I'm at work I use the hot water tap on our filtered water dispenser. Pour the water over the tea bag and let it steep.
The aroma of the tea as it brews always makes me relax at least a little. Different scents bring me back to previous cups and experiences. Jasmine green tea makes me think of sitting in Tea House of the Japanese Tea Gardens in San Francisco surrounded by the gray stone walls in the back corner while eating sesame cookies. PG Tips makes me think of learning to make a cup of real English tea in the office kitchen in London where I did an internship during my study abroad program in college. Loose leaf Ceylon makes me think of sitting in the now closed Tal-Y-Tara Tea Room and Polo Shoppe in San Francisco drinking the best pot of tea I've ever had while surrounded by equestrian gear.
Once the tea has steeped I wait for the tea to cool enough so I won't burn my tongue. And then the first sip - the hot liquid slipping down my throat, the cup or mug warming my hands. Bliss.
The whole ritual - from getting up to make the tea to the first sip - takes about 15 minutes. Not long, but enough to make me slow down and break me out of whatever track I've been toiling on. And that doesn't count the time it take me to drink the whole cup. Some days 15 minutes is all I have. Some days I have more than double that. The ritual of making and having tea is flexible and adaptable to any circumstance. At its core its about pausing in your day to take part in a sensual experience. Something that takes you out of the usual hustle and bustle. It's the ritual.