Frantic sales shopping, elaborate turkey dinners, eggnog-fueled family drama—yes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. And the most stressful.
Stress is a part of all our lives, and it’s even worse during the holidays. We stretch our budgets, searching for the perfect gifts or trying to bake Martha Stewart’s hand-stenciled gingerbread cookies. For students like me, this time of year also brings the extra stress of finals.
So, there’s no better time to reduce your worry by starting to live the tea lifestyle.
“And what exactly is the tea lifestyle, Chai Tea Chick?” you ask skeptically, your eyebrow raised.
To answer that, I’m going to have to go a little philosophical. I’ve spent most of this blog explaining and examining tea as a drink. Tea, of course, is delicious (and I wouldn’t be able to function most mornings without it). But it is more than that. Tea can be a way of life.
The tea lifestyle is one that embraces simplicity, peace, and balance. By making, drinking, and enjoying tea, you slow down the pace of your life, so that you can appreciate the smaller pleasures and beauty in the world. It’s about finding harmony with others and yourself. Drinking tea is meant to be a time for self-reflection—in a way, it’s like a form of meditation, but with a delicious drink rather than with “ohms.”
To the stressed-out mother shopping for three, or the worried college student cramming for a test at three, I say, “Doesn’t that sound nice?”
The idea of tea as a lifestyle isn’t new. In Japan, it even has a name: Teaism. This lifestyle is best explained by Okakura Kazuko in his 1906 essay, “The Book of Tea,” which is available at Project Gunteberg. Kazuko, a Japanese scholar, explains that Teaism is a type of aestheticism that adores “the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence.” Kazuko closely links Teaism with Zen because they both advocate simplicity over complexity.
To get started on the tea lifestyle, do something simple. Take 15 minutes out of your day to make and drink tea. Don’t spend that time playing Candy Crush or watching Dr. Oz on TV. Just drink tea.
At first, you should actually time those 15 minutes. Most of us are on such a hectic schedule, especially during the holiday season, that it’s easy to chip away at this “free time.” But, remember, this isn’t free time. It’s mental-health, reduce-stress time. Let yourself self-reflect. Even better, just try not to think about anything at all.
Really, wouldn’t the world be a better place if we put aside the complications and stresses and just drank tea? It might seem silly, but tea really can bring people together. As Kazuko said, “Strangely enough humanity has so far met in the tea-cup.”
Happy holidays, and hold on to your teacups!