The Healing Power of Tea…

Its sounds so flippant doesn’t it, that tea will help any situation. I’ve asked around and it does seem a uniquely British response to a crisis, and that has flowed across the Commonwealth but not beyond that. Other countries might offer a hug or meet a practical need like adding a blanket or offering a tissue, from a drinks perspective it seems that a glass of water or even some alcohol is more likely in some places than tea. Which makes me wonder how helpful it really is? As someone who adores tea it shocked me recently when for the very first time in my life I turned down a cup…

Over the last few months we have been offered and drunk a lot of tea, all varieties and flavours in mugs, china tea sets and travel cups. We’ve drunk tea indoors, outdoors and in the car – interestingly the only place we don’t drink tea is at the woods where Issac is buried; there we take a flask of hot chocolate, it’s become a thing we do, we also take cake or a treat of some kind. This probably started because we were taking the girls (who don’t drink tea) and wanted some nice associations created and now they are part of our new traditions and routines. It’s also because the weather hasn’t been too great, I wonder if we will continue during the hot Summer months?

What I do know to be true is that offering someone a cup of tea is so much more than a simple beverage – it’s offering them love and kindness, A Hug In A Mug.  It’s way to say I’m thinking of you right now and trying to support you. It’s also a short distraction, to find the right mug (some of ours would not be appropriate), checking what type of tea people want, getting the milk from the fridge, asking about sugar and letting the kettle boil and the tea brew. It’s time to be busy but not loud or demanding. It’s become a whole form of communication and I’m grateful for it’s purpose.

There is something special about the simplicity of making someone a cup of tea, the gift of a sit down and a moment of reflection, its something almost everyone can do and it’s cheap too. We have been made and drunk more tea since ‘that day’ than it seems possible to count – I’m talking thousands of cups. I even remember offering the police constables tea when they arrived, which seems so odd now but felt completely normal at the time. It’s been something to say or do when no words have been possible, it’s been making connections with strangers to discuss the most horrific of topics, it’s been a shared culture when you feel completely alone and separate from the world.

There is a healing power in tea, there is something special that happens when you are offered a cup or when you make one for someone you care about. There is connection and solace and while I may have had my fill at times, I still reach for that warm mug to hold even if I don’t drink the tea. I still pick my mug with care, often choosing Issac’s mug despite it triggering an unpredicatable reaction of floods of tears or smiles of joy. We are such creatures of habit that for many of us just flicking the switch on the kettle may create a moment of calm as we predict the well worn physical and mental process that will inevitably follow, if you often turn the kettle on but never make the tea then that may speak of a high state of stress – as your neurons follow patterns they know to be associated with relaxation and try desperately to help you start a habit of associating the kettle with the sit down and a warm drink…

I’m glad we have this strange custom and that I’ve been able to lean on it during these dark times as have those around me, I can categorically say it’s helped and if  you don’t like tea try a different hot drink, and if you need to, try just hot water and hold that warm mug. Allow someone to make it for you. Allow it to give you a moment to take a breath.

 

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