For thousands of years, tea has been much more than just a simple beverage. In many eastern cultures, it is synonymous with ceremony and ritual. In fact, the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony has been practiced for centuries and involves the tea master preparing each bowl individually.
Part of the reason why tea has been such a mainstay in many cultures is its ability to help relax and quiet our minds. As such, pairing it with the practice of meditation—ancient, yet perpetual—seems a no-brainer. After all, if tea can provide a sense of stillness, imagine what it can do when combined with mindfulness!
In this article, we’ll explore the special relationship between tea for meditation and how this profound combination can help you cultivate a sense of peace in your everyday life.
Why Is Tea Good for Meditation?
When we meditate, the goal is to take a break from our thoughts, allowing us to eventually observe them in a nonjudgmental manner from a distance. But this isn’t always easy and often requires a concentrated effort.
The truth is, the act of meditation itself can be intimidating, overwhelming, and sometimes even tedious. To make it simpler, many teachers recommend adding in what they call ‘supporting elements,’ such as music, visuals, and smell. What better support element than a steaming hot cup of your favorite tea?
So how exactly can tea help you with your mindfulness practice?
Tea as an Aromatherapy
If you’ve ever paused to take in the scent of a fresh cup of tea, you know how calming and invigorating it can be. That’s because tea leaves are known for their complex aromas and flavors.
The combination of a hot beverage with aromatherapy has been proved to have a positive impact on both the body and mind. This is especially true for tea as it ‘contains hundreds of active compounds, many of which are known to have antioxidizing, calming, and energizing properties.’
During meditation, we use our sense of smell to anchor ourselves in one place and become aware of the present moment. By drinking tea during your mindfulness session, you are able to layer your practice with the mood-altering benefits of tea’s impressive fragrance.
Tea as Background Noise
The sounds of nature can create a relaxed environment that allows us to sit in stillness and observe our inner workings. That’s why many teachers recommend listening to nature-inspired sounds while meditating.
Because tea-drinking is often an elaborate process, from the sound of pouring water to the whistle of a kettle, it lends itself to being an excellent mindful activity. The clink of a teaspoon against a cup and the gurgle of steaming water are just a few of the sounds that come alive when brewing a cup of tea.
Listening to the soothing rhythm of these noises has the potential to create a unique listening experience that can serve as a food for thought during your meditation practice.
Tea as a Taste Sensation
One of the best things about tea for meditation is the varied assortment of flavors that you can choose from. From fragrant jasmine blossoms to spicy chai, there is truly a perfect tea for everyone.
For beginners, it’s no secret that the taste of tea can be an effective tool used as an anchor. That’s why tea ceremonies are used to begin so many mindful activities—so that you can allow yourself to become aware of and appreciate the subtle flavors of this ancient beverage.
Sipping on your favorite tea can be an effective way to focus on the present moment and can serve as a form of meditation by itself. As your tongue searches the flavors and the steam fills your nostrils, the boundaries between what you are experiencing and the act of meditating become blurred; thus deepening your mindfulness further.
Reasons Why Tea Is Good for Meditation
Now you know the ways in which tea can help with your practice of mindfulness, but why should you choose it as a supporting element instead of something else?
These are a few reasons why tea can be beneficial to your meditation practice:
• Tea contains natural antioxidants, which can help the body relax and promote a sense of wellbeing.
• Tea has a calming and soothing aroma, which can help with focus and concentration.
• Tea has a unique taste, which can help keep you engaged in the present moment.
• Tea requires a certain amount of preparation, which can be seen as a form of meditation itself.
• Tea is widely available, affordable, and easy to enjoy.
In conclusion, it’s clear to see why tea has been such a popular choice for meditation practitioners. It can help create the perfect atmosphere for focused contemplation and allow you to access a calm and present state of mind all at once.
Q: Is caffeine an issue when meditating with tea?
A: Not necessarily. Most caffeinated teas contain low amounts of caffeine and can be suitable for a mindful practice. However, if you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine, it’s best to opt for caffeine-free teas like herbal blends or rooibos for your meditation.
Q: How often can I use tea as an aid for my meditation practice?
A: It’s recommended that you drink tea before your meditation session, in order to take advantage of the calming and invigorating benefits. Then you can continue to drink tea after your session as an enjoyable ritual – it will help signal the end of your session and help you gradually transition back into your daily routine.
Q: What are the best teas for meditation?
A: The best teas for meditation are those that are naturally caffeine-free and known to lend an air of tranquility. White, green and oolong teas are known for their natural calming qualities, however many herbal blends and rooibos teas are excellent for setting the perfect mood for a peaceful and mindful practice.
Checklist For Tea & Meditation
• Choose a caffeinated or caffeine-free tea – depending on your preference.
• Take time to appreciate the aroma, flavor and texture of the tea in your cup.
• Use prepared tea as an anchor for your already established meditation practice.
• Listen carefully for the sound of steeping tea leaves, pouring hot water and even the gentle clinking of a teaspoon.
• Enjoy your tea in a calm, mindful and peaceful space.
• Allow the taste and smell of the tea to deepen your focus and present moment awareness.
• Use the process of drinking tea during your morning or evening practice as a way to anchor you in the present.