Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Psychology of Tea – Laughter and Appreciation

The psychology of tea is stuck in my head. On reflection, I have a lot to say about this subject. This is a huge topic simply because there are so many psychological benefits of tea. There is no doubt in my mind that tea has many subtle benefits to health, both physical and psychological. Just today, taking my first sip of tea, I am revived. “I can make it. I will overcome my obstacles. I will achieve my goals. Life is good. Gratitude.” All of this came to mind the moment the tea touched my lips. This is the profound impact of tea.

Psychology in a nutshell... our interpersonal relations, who we get along with, why we get along with them, how we get along with ourselves. Why do we dislike the people we dislike? What are our obstacles? How do we overcome them? What is our outlook? People are difficult to understand. Even understanding ourselves is difficult, let alone understanding others.

Tea has an introspective energy, shedding light on the essence of who we are. This provides the opportunity for personal growth.

Many people have described before how, for example, by setting aside a time for tea for the whole family, when the whole family comes together to drink tea, improves familial relations. This is akin to eating meals together as a family. It is a way to spend time together. On multiple occasions, more than I can count, and more than I am even aware of, tea has facilitated with a feeling of togetherness, bringing people together, establishing connection, and a sense of well being.

“If I've taught you one thing, it's how to pivot.” Martin told me this after I conveyed to him the following experience. I was conducting a tea tasting at The Kiva. Several teas were in the line up, steeping in the Jian Ding Bei, professional cupping set, and decanting into colorful teapots. One steep at a time, doling out the samples, until that infusion is used up. Then I steep the leaves again. This process is repeated several times until the leaves have lost most of their luster. I only brew one infusion at a time, so there is just a little bit of tea sitting in the colorful teapots at any given time. I do this, so that when I pour the sample into the porcelain sample cup, the tea is hot. This works pretty good, but on this particular day, business must have been slow. I'd been there a couple of hours, steeping and re-steeping, and my mind was starting to wander. A man approached and I cordially offered him a taste of tea. Upon tasting the tea, the man complained, “This tea is cold.” Something about his attitude, maybe it was his lack of appreciation, was less than endearing. So I answered, “No, the tea isn't cold. You are late.”

As soon as the words left me lips, my core was vibrating with a sound and sensation similar to that felt when sitting at the base of a huge waterfall. This was Martin's laughter. Uncontainable and wild, not in bursts, but more like a lion's roar.

I remember feeling afraid that I would forget things about Martin, but I can hear it as clear as the day we were sitting on his sailboat and I told him this story. He liked my story. “That is a pivot!” he exclaimed. This is the psychology of tea. And it is true, the pivot, he taught me well.


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