by Brad Lebowitz
I write now having just taken a sip of some Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea from Taiwan. Tea has become an anchor in my life. Like brushing my teeth, mornings just don’t feel complete unless I take the time to sit with my tea. I love the whole process of making tea: from filling my electric water kettle, choosing the loose leaf tea to brew, waiting for the water to come to the right temperature for the tea of choice, rinsing whatever vessel I’ll be using for the tea, to brewing my cup, and then the “ahhhh” of taking that first sip of tea. Tea is more than just a beverage. The process of making tea has helped me slow down, focus, and bring awareness to and appreciate the present moments.
Did you know that tea is the second most consumed beverage, after water, in the world?
In fact, most cultures on this planet have some sort of tea tradition. The Asian cultures are suspected to have had the tea practice the longest. Legend has it that in 2737 BC, the Chinese emperor Shen Nung was sitting beneath a tree while his servant boiled drinking water, when some leaves from the tree blew into the water to become what’s now known as tea.
All teas come from the plant camellia sinensis, a species of evergreen shrub commonly known as tea tree or tea plant. Technically, herbal infusions like mint tea or chamomile tea are not tea given the lack of leaves from camellia sinensis. The unique quality of tea is that while it has caffeine, it also has other chemicals like theanine that at once stimulate yet relax the brain. It’s this ability to calm yet focus the mind that I find so unique of tea and so different from coffee.
In the hands of a skillful tea farmer and artisan, healthful tea leaves can be crafted to produce brilliantly beautiful aromas and flavors categorized into what the tea experts at Far Leaves Tea call “kingdoms of tea”: white, green, oolong, black, puer, and, of course, herbal infusion. Each is unique in its proportion of caffeine content and flavor, to allow one to choose pending the mood and experience one is looking for in that moment.
I didn’t grow up in a tea culture. It had never had any meaningful place in my life. But once I started making loose leaf tea, and paying attention to the process of making the different infusions of tea that brewing loose leaf tea allows, a new door was opened, opening into a world that I could make my own.
Brad Lebowitz is a tea lover and aficionado. He has been serving, sharing, and educating the Bay Area community on tea with Far Leaves Tea for the last 15 years.
We proudly serve Far Leaves Tea at our Namaste studios. Sourced from the finest sources and prepared with care, Far Leaves Tea is a local business who continues to provide the community with nourishment and peace through the tea experience.