The holidays have turned into a whirlwind.
Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving turkeys and holiday cookies, traveling and hosting and guests, November and December tend to be the busiest months of the year.
Now, that's not to say there isn't cheer and joy in the holidays -- these times are for gathering, for seeing family members for the first time in a while, and for giving gifts. This time of year is a favorite for so many.
But one of my favorite things about the holidays -- about Thanksgiving, in particular -- is the underlying theme of gratitude. So often I feel that we get caught up in the flurry surrounding the holidays that taking a moment to be appreciative for what we have seems to slip lower and lower on our lists of priorities. In our busy world, we tend to rush from one thing to the next, never stopping to just take a moment and breathe.
As I've been pondering this over the past few years, I've realized that's one of the most beautiful things about tea: you can't rush it.
Loose-leaf tea like ours must be treated with care -- our staff has meticulously cupped each and every single one of our 170 teas to determine the exact steeping time that makes that tea spectacular. For the most part, our teas are not the kind you can toss in a reusable tumbler and go. You have to carefully pour the water, set a timer, and wait.
For many people, myself included, I tend to do other things while I wait for my tea to steep -- if I'm drinking a Monk's Blend in the morning, I might pop some bread in the toaster oven; if I'm having a soothing Calming Chamomile before bed, I might check my email one last time. But this holiday season, I've decided to savor the moments it takes my tea to steep.
No matter what time of day, I love to watch the steam curl off my mug as my tea steeps and just take a minute to breathe. It's almost become a ritual for me -- a way to center myself and gather my thoughts before gearing up for another day.
After all, tea has long been a ceremony of savoring and relaxing -- the Chinese Gong Fu tea ceremony involves a beautiful, complex ritual in which each tea is sampled and savored over multiple infusions.
As Thanksgiving approaches us this year, try to find time to stop by our shop and grab your favorite tea. (I always go for the Vanilla Black, because not only is it delicious, it also reminds me of my closest friend, as I drank it for the first time with her.) As you prepare the tea, try to find a place to sit and relax, so that you can take its steeping time to breathe for a minute. This moment of peace is the perfect time to reflect and to find a sense of gratitude.
Maybe you're grateful for the roof over your head, or the extra-cozy blanket you just got on sale. Maybe you're grateful for the fact that we can enjoy artisan teas from all over the world here in America. Or maybe you're just grateful to have a moment to inhale the fragrant steam of tea and enjoy that first incredible sip of a freshly-brewed cup.
After all, gratitude can often be found in the smallest of moments, and the steeping of a beautiful cup of tea can be the best moment of all.