life curation · relaxation

How to Do a Tea Meditation

Happy Tuesday friends! I hope you all are enjoying a comfortable and happy day wherever you are.

In light of the recent events in the United States, I thought about how I could contribute to the collective energy of peace and kindness. It may sound a little simplistic, but I truly believe that good intentions, prayer, and self-mastery are foundational to creating a more peaceful world. Indeed, if I can create peace within my personal world, I can radiate this out to others, and eventually this energy can start to encourage a peaceful attitude around the world.

I looked around my home to see if I had anything that would create an immediate mood lift. I reached for what has always worked for me: a cup of hot tea. But, instead of simply drinking the tea, I decided to do something a little different. I created a tea meditation around my ritual of enjoying hot tea. After I finished my cup, I felt so much more relaxed and grounded. I figure, if this process can have that effect on me, perhaps it will be of use to you, too.

So here are the steps involved in my tea meditation. If you prefer to watch a video on it, you can see a video demonstration below. Also, if you’re interested in reading more about the rich history of tea and the culture behind the tea ceremony, you should check out The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura. I found the book unexpectedly enlightening and thoroughly inspiring.

  • Pay close attention to every step that you take in preparing your tea: select your tea carefully, listen to the sound of the water as it goes from simmering to boiling, feel the weight of the cup in your hand before and after adding water.
  • Select your sweetener carefully (if you choose to indulge). If you’re inclined. do a taste test of the different sweeteners available and see which one makes your taste buds dance.
  • Gently, slowly and intentionally pour the hot water over your tea. Look intently as the water changes from clear to colored. Look closely to see if the herbs or tea leaves make swirls in the water as it infuses. Get lost in the slow transformation from clear liquid to flavorful beverage.
  • Add your sweetener a little at a time. Taste the difference between levels of sweetness. Connect those levels of sweetness to emotions or actions (perhaps you can compare lightly sweetened to a mild happiness, and the perfect level of sweetness to bliss [maybe like a passionate kiss]).
  • Stir the tea gently with a spoon, to ensure that the flavors are evenly distributed. Immerse all of your senses into the process.
  • Allow the tea to cool a bit before drinking. Take deep, cleansing breaths while you wait, and concentrate on what you want to experience as a result of drinking your tea (happiness, peace, satisfaction, etc.,).
  • Bring the cup up to your lips but, before sipping, deeply inhale the aroma. Try to identify each of the components of the tea by smell.
  • Take a sip, noting the feel of the cup against your lip, the weight of the cup in your hand, and the smell of the tea.
  • Allow the tea to gently swish in your mouth, coming into contact with all of your taste buds. Try to pick up notes of sweetness, bitterness, sourness, or saltiness (an exquisite tea can have elements of each). As you swallow, concentrate once more on what you want to experience.
  • With every sip, engage all of your senses and focus on what you desire.
  • Upon finishing your tea, speak a few words of gratitude, and complete a few more deep, cleansing breaths.

That’s it for today. I hope that this meditation blesses you and helps you tap into a feeling of peace and relaxation, as it has done for me. Take care, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

*This post contains affiliate links.

health

Fibro Friday – Trying St John’s Wort

Happy Fibro Friday! I’m so excited to end this week discussing one of my favorite herbs to help me treat some of my fibromyalgia symptoms. This post is also well timed, considering that January is National Hot Tea Month (I’ve done posts about this in years prior: see here and here).

Enjoying my Winter Wonder Tea

The herb that I’m speaking of is St. John’s wort. St John’s wort is a powerful herb, known for its pain-fighting ability. It works by inhibiting the “protein kinase Cgamma and epsilon activity” through the chemical hypericin (you can find more about that here). It also has the ability to relieve symptoms of depression. That being said, PLEASE don’t try to treat your depression solely with herbal remedies! Make sure to consult your doctor before trying any new regimens.

I’ve been using it as an ingredient in my Winter Wonder tea. I combine it with pau d’arco, cranberry, tangerine and cinnamon. I noticed an improvement in my pain levels as well as a better mood. I am currently taking prescription medication to manage my fibromyalgia symptoms, but I have not achieved complete pain mitigation. So I was excited to see an improvement in how I was feeling and will continue drinking this tea throughout the cold months. I made a video featuring my tea recipe. You can find the video below:

You can purchase St John’s wort here, and if you’re interested in recreating the herbal tea, you can purchase pau d’arco here, and you can purchase freeze-dried tangerines here.

beauty · food

5 Ways to Enjoy Tea Without Drinking It

If you enjoy tea as much as I do, you will probably find yourself with quite a tea collection at some point. It’s also inevitable that, the more teas you try, the more likely you are to come across a tea that you don’t enjoy. Whether it’s too bland, too bitter, too strong, or just not very tasty, getting a tea that you don’t enjoy drinking is always a bit disappointing. And let’s face it: some of us just don’t enjoy the flavor of tea.

That being said, I have good news! All hope isn’t lost when you purchase a “dud” tea, or when you find yourself the proud owner of a tea that you won’t be drinking (whether you purchased it or it was gifted to you). In fact, it’s possible to use tea in quite a few different ways around your home and within your beauty routine. Of course, you’ll want to pay attention to the ingredients: certain teas shouldn’t be used near your eyes or allowed to sit on the skin unless you don’t mind having some discomfort (“hotter” tea ingredients, like ginger and cayenne come to mind). As always, use wisdom and discretion with any of these recommendations.

Without further ado, here are five ways that you can re-purpose tea leaves. Enjoy!

Bath/bath bomb additiveIf you make bath bombs (like I do), you can add some dry tea leaves to your recipe before you put the mixture into molds. It adds a little additional fragrance and beauty to your bath bombs. If you don’t make bath bombs, you can always just add the leaves directly to your bath. Certain teas, like mint and lemon balm, have invigorating scents and can be a refreshing addition to your bath. These teas can also be mixed with epsom salt for an especially relaxing soak.

Herbal facial steam – Similar to baths, you can use tea to make an herbal facial steam. Some teas (like rose and lavender) are known for their relaxing and beautifying properties. Do a little research on your tea and see if the ingredients are suitable for a face steam. Keep in mind, simple black, green or white teas (without added herbs or florals) are perfectly fine for most skin types. Of course, always proceed with caution, even when using “safe” teas.

Face tonic – Just like herbal facial steams, you can steep the tea in hot water then use it as a toner. Camellia sinensis (the scientific name for tea) is generally considered an astringent natural product. The tannins in it constricts body tissue, making it perfect for pore-tightening and giving the face a very toned appearance. The higher the amount of tannins (generally, these are more numerous in cheaper teas), the more astringent the tea will be. Try using a full strength tea tonic on your skin, then, if you find it is too strong, add water to reduce the potency.

Oil infusion – This is actually my favorite way to use teas that I don’t want to drink. Infusing tea into oil can create a luxurious natural product that can either be applied to the skin, the hair, or added to vinegar or another acidic item (like lemon juice) to make dressing. Infusions are simple: add herbs to as many ounces of oil that you want, let it sit in a dark (preferably cool) area for at least four weeks, and shake the mixture occasionally. Personally, I love adding inexpensive chamomile tea and other herbs to coconut or olive oil, then letting them infuse over a month or two. Once these are infused, I strain the oil, put it in a lovely bottle, then apply it to my hair and skin.

Hair rinse – Certain teas are great for rinsing the hair. You brew the tea as normal, then pour the cooled tea onto the hair after shampooing and conditioning. Chamomile is great for lighter colored hair, while sage is fantastic for dark hair. Also, teas that contain rosemary and lavender can be beneficial for dry, itchy scalp, so keep that in mind. You can also just add dried rosemary and/or lavender to the tea that you’re brewing, then you get the added benefit of those herbs for scalp health.

These are some of my favorite ways to use teas that aren’t so tasty. Do you have any recommendations for re-purposing tea leaves? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

food · life curation · luxury

Learn About Tea – For Free!

On Facebook, I recently saw an ad from The Republic of Tea, offering a free email course about tea. Tea 101: An Educational Email Series promised to deliver, over a 6 day period, information about the “nuances and complexities of premium tea”.

I’m a sucker for nuance and complexity, so I happily dove into the emails as they arrived.

Mustard and Olive Chic Lifestyle Blogger Blog Post Social Media Graphics

The lessons cover the different aspects of distinguishing between and enjoying tea. The lessons are brief and to the point, so they are perfect for busy people.

I especially enjoyed the emphasis on the fact that herbal teas aren’t true “teas” (the only true “tea” is the leaf of the camellia sinensis plant). However, the company still took time to explain the benefits of herbal “teas” and blends. I also liked the description that Republic of Tea provided, regarding the caffeine levels in varying tea varieties. It was good to see which teas provide light, medium and heavy caffeine.

 

food · relaxation

A Brief Guide to Hot Tea

As National Hot Tea Month draws to a close, I’m a little sad. I’ve shared all of my hot tea pics with you all on Instagram, I’ve made a post about tea on this blog, and now I need to find some new content for February! However, given the big trip I’m taking in a couple of weeks (more about that coming soon!), I’m sure that I’ll have plenty of writing fodder.

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My tea and coffee-inspired painting that I did when I went to a Creativity Workshop at Blue Bee Cider a couple of weeks ago

 To close out the month, I want to share some of my tea drinking tips with you all. These are just a few of my observations, but I’d love for you all to weigh in with any tea tips that you may have!

 –          Have a dedicated tea cup. There’s something so soothing about the ceremony of using a dedicated tea cup (or, in my case, a tea mug) to drink your beverage. If you associate tea drinking with relaxation, then the very sight of your tea cup will put you at ease. Since I drink lots of tea, I have three cups that I use. I enjoy each of them.

–          Know that there is a tea for everyone. Even if you aren’t a fan of black tea, there are so many varieties, with so many flavors, that it’s pretty impossible to conclude that there is NO tea that you enjoy. Keep trying, and don’t be afraid to reach out to tea professionals to learn more about the available tea options.

–          Carefully follow the instructions on your tea packaging. This is especially crucial for expensive teas. If the instructions say to steep for 3 – 5 minutes, don’t cut that time short (you’ll end up with a weak tea) nor exceed it (you’ll have an overpowering and likely bitter beverage at the end). Certain teas are best enjoyed when using very hot water, as opposed to boiling water. So pay attention to the instructions and follow them!

–          Feel free to dress up your teas. Honey, lemon, cream, sugar: add whatever you like. However, NEVER mix cream and lemon – the combination will curdle in your cup (yuck!)

–          Listen to your body and only drink teas that make you feel good. I used to like a tea that was designed as a detox (more about that in the next tip). However, it’d leave me feeling faint when I drank it. I had to cut it out, even though I enjoyed it. Likewise, some of my favorite teas can only be enjoyed before 12 PM, because I’m very caffeine-sensitive and drinking caffeinated tea at a later hour will keep me awake all night. Listening to my body and adjusting accordingly was a wise move for me, and I advise that you all do it, too.

–          Drop any notion that a tea will help you lose fat or “detox” your body. I know celebrities are constantly selling tea and other beverages designed to help people shed weight quickly. Don’t fall for the hype. You may temporarily lose water weight or even speed up your metabolism a bit, but the best way to lose weight or detox is a healthy diet full of high quality, well-prepared foods and exercise that both safely increases your heart rate and effectively strengthens the muscles.

–          Visit a tea room. This is on my to-do list for the year. Every friend of mine that has done it highly recommends it. The owners of these tea rooms are genteel, knowledgeable and friendly. They are a great resource for learning about tea and how to pair tea with foods. A visit to a tea room is also a great reason to get dressed up and spend time with friends!

That’s it for me, beloveds! I look forward to chatting with you all soon!

life curation · relaxation

All About Tea . . .

Have you all been following me on Instagram? If so, then you’ve seen that I’ve been posting daily tea pictures ever since I found out that January is National Hot Tea Month (Southern Season said so!)

I’m a tea enthusiast so I’ve been having a ball with the tea theme. I’ve been challenging myself to post a different tea every day (only one day missed, and not because I didn’t drink tea, but because I simply forgot to take a picture!) And, since I’m also a tea hoarder, it looks like I’ll be able to get through the month of January with no tea duplicates (and no, I didn’t have to purchase any new tea to make it happen!)

allfreedownload

(photo from All Free Download)

Did you all know there are tea consultants that you can employ to help you with selecting tea? Yes, there are experts that write about, teach about and work within the complex and beautiful world of tea. One of my personal favorite tea consultants is Jo Johnson, though, I didn’t learn about Jo through tea organizations or events. I saw her in this incredible video that discusses aging. Every woman in the video is striking, beautiful and vibrant, but there’s something about Jo’s presence that pierces your soul and holds your imagination captive. She *looks* like the kind of woman that floats around in her workshop, dispensing custom blended teas while chatting about adventures during her younger years and sharing invaluable life lessons.

Jo’s expertise allows her to instruct her clients on how to best pair different teas with appropriate foods, and she has the credentials to prove her capabilities. She also connects “avid tea enthusiasts with buyers & sellers of unique product offerings”. So if you’re looking for a rare and special tea, she’s the one to contact. You can visit her website here:

A Gift of Tea

I hope you all join in on the National Hot Tea Month festivities! After all, it only comes once a year!

Until tomorrow, take care.