Teas and Quiet
TheKitchn.com (and its sister site, Re-Nest.com) both post what they call “Weekend Meditations” every Sunday. There are no other posts on Sunday for either site. The meditations are often simply a poem or a call to reflect or be introspective on the little things in life.
Today I thought I’d do a weekend meditation for FarmHouse. It’s been getting colder lately, especially at night, and the cold reminds you that autumn is here. Our house is chilly as our new furnace is almost (but not quite) finished being installed and the house rezoned. So on chilly afternoons when I have lots of reading to do for graduate school, I’ve been making myself a pot of tea, and sometimes a snack, and curling up on the couch with a blanket and my book.
I don’t listen to music or have the television on. I even put the computer away to prevent distraction. The only thing I can hear is either the rain outside or the low hum of traffic whizzing by right outside my door – both white noise and pretty easily ignored.
I think we modern humans forget to be quiet sometimes. We run the TV all day (even in restaurants!) or listen to music in the house or in the car to break the silence and take up space. We forget to listen to the little things: birds singing, tree leaves rustling, the wind shushing at the eves, our own thoughts.
The tea helps. Something about slowly sipping a whole pot by yourself is nice. Soothing, even. Yesterday it was linden leaf tea with honey. Today it’s decaf black vanilla flavored with a little sugar and milk. Tomorrow might be plain peppermint, extra hot. If I use sweetener, I sweeten the whole pot so I don’t overdo individual cups.
I’ve got a sweet little metal tray from Denmark I found at a thrift store and the teapot my mom gave me when I moved out and a variety of vintage mugs and teacups and saucers to choose from. I feel as though teatime needs something pretty and a tray is very useful for carrying the pot, cup, and whatever else you need all in one trip.
Sometimes I’m hungry enough between meals to need a little snack. I don’t buy prepackaged sweets and I’m not much of a cookie baker, so sometimes sweets options are limited (a good thing, given my sweet tooth), but my baking cupboard generally offers up plenty of dried fruit or some almonds and chocolate if I need them. The nice thing about dried fruit is that you can eat it in little bites. It might take me eight or ten bites to finish a single dried plum. I make dried apricots last longer because they are so sweet. You only need three or four pieces of dried fruit. Raw almonds and bittersweet chocolate chunks can also be had satisfyingly in small quantities. Whatever the snack is, it should be eaten slowly – nibbled and savored, with breaks in between bites
Blankets should also be quality and there should be many pillows to prop up on. Couches you can stretch out on are particularly nice. A wool blanket is perfect for very cold days, but a fuzzy fleece one will suffice. You should also feel free to pull the coffee table closer to the couch for easier cup and snack access, but the floor is perfectly all right if you haven’t got a coffee table.
The tea itself doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I’m partial to herbal or flavored teas. I don’t put milk in anything but black tea and I only sweeten teas which might be bitter or to grassy on their own. Store-bought tea bags are perfectly fine and I generally use just one per pot. Of course, if you have loose-leaf teas and a tea ball or strainer, feel free to fancy it up a bit with those.
Teatime is nice. I wish Americans had more time to slow down and enjoy things and think, instead of rushing about all day. Theoretically you could take tea in the office. The Brits do. They call it a “tea break” or just “tea” (so much nicer than a “smoke break,” don’t you think?). Especially if the water cooler has a hot water function and you’ve remembered to pack a little container of sweets with you and at least one tea bag, taking tea at the office is possible. Turn off the computer, kick off your shoes, and take your 15 minute break with a cup of hot tea and as little noise as you can manage. Your brain will thank you.
Of course, if you’re lucky enough to be home during the day, you can take tea like I do – in peace and quiet.