My own tea “ritual” begins by choosing the right tea for the moment. Do I want to try one of the new teas that I brought home from China—or do I want to stay with one of my favorites? Do I feel like a strong tea or a mild one? Something smokey or something delicate? Once I’ve made my choice, I open it up and savor its earthy aroma already anticipating the taste.
I put the water in the kettle and set about choosing which teapot I will use. With more than 30 in my collection, I have a wonderful selection. I scoop just the right amount of tea into the strainer and put the strainer into the teapot. Then, just before the water comes to a boil, I take the kettle off the stove and pour the steaming water through the strainer into the pre-warmed teapot—setting my timer for the right amount of steeping for my chosen tea.
While my tea is steeping, I prepare the spot where I’m going to sit and enjoy my tea. If I’m using a glass tea pot, the steeping time becomes a wonderful display of what the Chinese call “the agony of the leaves"—the unfurling of the dried tea leaves in the hot water. The leaves open up, float and then sink slowly to the bottom, coloring and infusing the water in the process.
The timer beeps. I remove the strainer, add the lid to the pot, and pour the first cup. The aroma is pleasant, reminding me of the many cups of tea I have enjoyed before, alone and with friends. As I settle in the comfort of my chair, I blow the heat off the cup to take my first sip. Delightful! Holding the warm tea cup, I take a deep breath and let my gaze wander out the window into the open space beyond my home.
I relax. I talk to God a little. I think about whom I might share my next pot of tea with.