Inspired by the recent trend of mindfulness, we're starting to dive deeper into the links between this meditative practice and—you guessed it—tea. But before we get to that link, it's important to define and qualify mindfulness. Best put, mindfulness is the opposite of distraction. It's paying attention to what you're doing while not paying attention to what you aren't. It's being here and present, away from our smartphones and work diversions and everyday worries.
Mindfulness is also about being in touch with yourself and your senses. More specifically, this is the result of mindful practices. So when you're cooking, you should really smell the flavors of what you're throwing into the pot. When reading, you should be absorbing each and every word. When listening to your favorite song, really take in the words. Being conscious of all that's around us is a lost lifestyle…but the Heavenly Tea Leaves team is here and ready to help you find it!
Tea has roots in Zen Buddhism, having become a staple as part of a balanced lifestyle since ancient times. According to legend:
Shan Daokai, a famous monk of East Jin Dynasty, cultivated himself according to Buddhism doctrines at Zhaode Temple. He was assiduous in his practice of sitting in meditation. To recover from fatigue and drive away sleepiness, he drank tea. It showed that in the beginning, the purpose for monks drinking tea [was] to facilitate meditation and self-cultivation. . . Shi Fayao, a monk of the Southern Dynasty . . . lived for 79 years. One secret of his longevity was to drink tea with meals. Eventually, [drinking tea daily] became a common practice among monks under Buddhism doctrines.
Tea meditation is often linked to the historical Japanese tea ceremony that is also derived from Zen Buddhism. Much of this style of meditation involves gratitude and directing your thoughts to where you want them to remain. Take a look at this clip, featuring Oprah Winfrey engaging in tea meditation. (Note: We are instructed to take a whole hour to slowly sip a cup of tea!)
Today, mindful practices should be part of a proactive daily routine. Drinking tea—especially certain blends—can be an adjacent or even essential part of this routine. How so? Tea engages the senses. The gentle brewing, the wafts of delightful aromas, the beautiful rich colors, the warmth, and of course, the divine taste. If you really participate in your tea-drinking, it can be a whole new and exciting experience in and of itself. Remember that this involves carefully brewing your tea, sitting down and enjoying it. Just you and the cup. Remove distractions like TV, phones, and computers.
A key way to bring mindfulness into your life is through meditation (in whichever form you please). You can sip on tea while you're meditating to help calm and center yourself, and to help bring about internal focus while melting stress away. No matter the style of meditation and mindfulness you choose, one must not forget that concentrating so hard on the tea we are drinking means that it better be a quality cup!
And of course, quality means premium loose-leaf tea that is unadulterated, expertly blended, fresh, and organic whenever possible. Here are a few choices that never fail:
- For relaxation and de-stressing before bed, your best bet in terms of tea is Heavenly Tea Leaves' Sleep. With ingredients like chamomile, peppermint, valerian root, and others, this herbal blend puts your body and mind at peace almost instantly by slowing your senses down.
- For all-day serenity and calmness, an amazing solution is Heavenly Tea Leaves' Chamomile Lavender. Both lavender and chamomile are widely known for helping relieve mild to moderate anxiety. Lavender has been used in Ayurvedic medicine and many other holistic approaches for thousands of years. If you're looking for a fix in the morning or night, this one's your next go-to.
- For long-lasting energy, Minty Morning from Heavenly Tea Leaves is a clear winner if you're looking to invigorate (an important quality if you're trying to be more mentally present in all parts of your day). Black tea, which serves as this blend's base, is the most caffeinated of all tea types. Add in the peppermint and spearmint (combined with a lemony punch) and you have a tasty, energizing tea.
- For concentration, we recommend Matcha Green Tea.* This green tea is a great substitute for coffee and is especially useful for those looking for focus. Matcha gives you natural, sustained energy without the jitters. L-Theanine, a natural chemical found in green tea, has been shown to help drinkers improve "mental focus and attention," according to WebMD. So whether it's before work or studying, why not give this earthy and delicious tea a go?
- And for physical well-being… The options are endless! Drinking tea regularly may serve to calm you, energize you, ease your stomach, and in some cases, help prevent illnesses altogether (after all, prevention is the new focus of modern medicine, too). Whatever it is you're looking for out of your cup, there's a tea out there for all of us.
Once you've determined the ideal tea type for you, make sure to regularly incorporate it into your mindfulness routine – remember, this can include yoga, meditation, or any other practice that helps you center yourself and prioritize awareness and being present. Channel your inner Zen Buddhist and watch things start looking up!