Are you more of a tea drinker or coffee drinker? I’m one of those people who has a dual love for both.

However, there’s something to be said for the art of making tea. In the last year or so, I’ve been introduced to some interesting teas, including matcha, maté, rooibos and pu’er (or pu-erh). I’ve learned a lot about tea and have even developed a love for brewing loose-leaf tea.

I used to rely solely on teabags. The idea of brewing my tea in a teapot seemed old-fashioned and time-consuming. As I’ve grown older, though, I’ve realized how important it is to slow down and reflect. And brewing loose-leaf tea is a perfect way to do this.

Slowing down

Tea being poured into pitcher on table - Enjoy a cup of teaBrewing with loose-leaf requires you to slow down and concentrate solely on the task at hand, which is a form of meditation.

Whenever I open up loose-leaf tea from a tin, I’ll pause to look at the mix and smell its aroma. Then I’ll fill my teapot with hot water. The teapot is simple, and it only adds to my enjoyment of tea-making. I think the reason many teapots and teacups are designed so beautifully is because tea-drinking is usually associated with social get-togethers or meditation.

Then there’s the waiting—pausing in my day to make the perfect brew. Once the tea is poured, I inhale the scent as I wait for it to cool. The aromas that come from teas can be really lovely, especially when they’ve been brewed as loose-leaf teas.

When you use loose-leaf tea, the tea leaves have more room to absorb water and expand, and you get more of the aroma and flavour from each one than you would with teabags. You catch not only the aromas but also the different notes in each tea.

Tea-tasting as meditation

woman drinking teaThe act of tasting tea has a meditative quality. Some teas, such as fruit infusions, can taste sweet and creamy all at once. Others, such as pu’er, can be earthy and rich with a taste similar to chocolate or coffee.

Lindsey Goodwin, in The Spruce Eats’ article titled “Teabags vs. Loose Leaf Tea,” explains how teabags are usually made with low-grade tea leaves such as dust or fannings. The dust or fannings are smaller pieces of tea with a larger surface area. The larger surface area means that the essential oils within those pieces evaporate, affecting the taste of the tea and its freshness. In contrast, loose-leaf tea brings out more of the vitamins, flavours and aromas from the leaves.

The convenience of teabags is great and I find that I still enjoy the taste, but if you’re looking for a different way to brew your tea and want to experience more of its flavour, try loose-leaf tea for a change. Pause and enjoy…

Tea, culture and tradition

There’s a long history of tradition and ritual associated with tea drinking, particularly in Asia. The traditional tea ceremony in Japan is closely linked to Zen practices, and there are even special tea rooms for it.

Tea is also a huge part of British culture and day-to-day living. In a place with lots of rainy, cloudy days, tea is a comfort to Brits and reminds them of “childhood and home,” as Jessica Pan explains in her article, “What Americans can learn from the soothing British ritual of tea time.”

In other places like Turkey, tea is deeply embedded in the social culture. As this post on Turkey Travel Blog explains, when a shop owner offers their customers a cup of tea, it’s seen as a sign of friendship and hospitality.

When it comes to tea-drinking, many cultures seem to share a similar approach: slowing down and sitting to enjoy a cup of tea, which is both ritualistic and comforting.

With what do you associate tea?

cup of tea at sunriseTea always makes me think of a rainy day and a good book. I have tea whenever I’m feeling sick and can’t stomach coffee.

For many people, tea has come to symbolize home, tradition and comfort.

If you’re more a coffee drinker or prefer teabags, perhaps you can give loose-leaf tea a go or even apply these principles to your enjoyment of whatever you drink. No matter your preferred beverage of choice, we can all give ourselves more time to make ourselves a warm cup, sit down and enjoy the day ahead of us.

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Angela Ward is a communications professional and writer with an interest in personal development, mindful living and environmental protection. You can find her on Twitter.

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