The value of tea cannot be given, it must be experienced and learned firsthand. The art of tea has been steadfast for centuries, a story steeped in myth and fact, an infusion of color and culture. The legendary brew began deep in the vibrant past of China. In 2737 B.C. a Chinese Emperor Shen Nong, renowned for this scientific acumen as well as his steady rule, accidentally brewed the first cup. A simple leaf drifted down from a nearby tea tree and enriched his cup. Overflowing with delicious flavor and energy, he felt invigorated and refreshed, thus begun the birth of tea culture and it's many advocates throughout history
In today's American society and culture, individuals with bold action and tireless work are championed as the best and most fortunate. A culture so steeped in their efforts there is no time to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of another's company and conversation. Past centuries would define being busy as a symbol of the less fortunate and lower class, but now this propagated notion is considered a high-status symbol to wear with pride and arrogance. American culture rewards the tireless and endlessly willed, sporting the busy-frame as a high-status badge widespread through societal and cultural groups. This mentality is toxic and almost tragic, pushing many to a breaking point of no return. Mental illness is at an all-time high and anxiety attacks have become commonplace.
To break up the ice and restore some balance to this bludgeoning affair, I have turned my attention to tea and its countless merit. What initially started out as a jest from an old college friend, remarking on my British heritage; has now turned full circle to an enriching social gathering of good friends, good conversation, and good tea. We began as four friends sharing the comfort of a cup and a few simple treats. Now we look around and see familiar friends and faces of all backgrounds and livelihoods, a full affair of tea and life.
The small Dallas tea time I have started has now grown to well over 10 times the original group, usually hosted several times a year. In 2017, I have carefully crafted each soiree with a different historical mood. This past months was ‘Tales of the East’, a sincere homage to tea culture in Asia and the Middle East. Guests came out with their finest oriental attire and brought authentic tea brews from around the world; the entire venue was split between three seating areas. One area required guests to sit on an authentic Persian blanket once used to weather the tough climate of Iran’s mountain ranges; the area included a slightly elevated glass table with pillows and carpet secured around and underneath. The table exhibited dimmed candles, Chinese mediation balls, Japanese incense, and other artifacts on display just beyond the glass screen. The next had a more traditional living area arrangement lending support to oriental carpets and decor. The main focus centered on a rustic backgammon game for guests to revel in one of the eldest board games; once made popular in the old East. The final area opened out to the outside porch, revealing an asymmetrical canopy surrounded by bamboo and golden lighting.
There is no particular way to enjoy a cup of tea, steep your own rhythm, brew your own moment. Next time you find yourself needing a break from the fast lane, have a cup of tea and take the moment to live in the moment.
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