Sitting again at my favorite table, I found myself surrounded by a comforting, rustic elegance. An assortment of teapots resembling a chorus line of dancers lined a wooden shelf as if it were a stage. Each one dressed more beautifully than the one before, each one vying for the brewers attention. The smell of tea and spices combined with the perfume from the lady next to me and wafted through the air. It smelled familiar, as I took a deep breath and let out a sigh of contentment. An intimate tea room with around 10 tables might seem small to some, but the formal place settings with beautiful linens and delicate tea cups makes it seem spacious and grand. Jenni, the owner, has a way of marrying rustic charm with formal elegance, arousing a sense of pleasure, relaxation and delight all at once. You get the feeling that every day should be celebrated and no occasion is too small to be special. It was closing time now and only a few customers lingered over their meal. Chatter and laughter met the clinks of spoons against cups, then wove its way around the room as one homogeneous sound. Friends enjoyed the remaining sips of tea while the last crumbs of scones and sandwiches littered the pretty plates stacked on the serving tiers.
I had been invited to an after hours tea tasting and I could hardly wait to learn more about the different teas and discover some new favorites. Many people get excited about wine tasting, but I get down right giddy over tea tasting. Some of my earliest memories are having tea with my great grandmother. Nanny Grandma, I called her. She would put a little milk and sugar in my cup then pour the fragrant amber liquid from her teapot into my little waiting cup. She fixed toast with apple butter and put home canned peaches in a small dish. This, along with our tea was breakfast. Even though I was only three or four years old, she served me with her prettiest cup and saucer and delicate little bowl. There began my love for tea. No matter your age, taking tea has a way of making you feel special.
To me, the most interesting part about tasting tea, is trying to identify all of the different ingredients that might be in a particular blend. Some of the teas sampled were black, some were green, many had added spices or citrus, others were a mixture of flowers, roots, berries and herbs. Different flavors combined together to create sweetness, bitterness, or even savory. Some were blended for sleep, others were meant for energy, while a few had been created to promote healing, creativity or wellness. I was amazed that by changing a single ingredient, the character and purpose of the tea could be changed. The smells were intoxicating, the tastes were beautiful, and it left me thinking and dreaming about the experience all night long.
In the morning, when I made my own cup of tea, I thought back to all of the flavors I had recently savored. I added a bit of honey to my chamomile and settled in for a nice long think. I thought about how much like a pot of tea I am. I am a unique blend of choices, experiences, talents and values. I have my own temperament, preferences, and purpose. The quality, quantity and choice of ingredients going into the pot completely becomes the infusion that will pour from its spout. Similarly, the quality, quantity, and choice of what I choose to fill myself with, steeps in my inner most being and pours from my heart. Although I will often fall short, I hope to choose a life steeped in love, joy and mercy and what flows from my mouth will always be infused with kindness and compassion.
Until next time,
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Ps. 19:14