Nostalgia, Ritual, and Restoration: The Power of Tea

Edited by Olivia Spahn-Vieira  

“Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence.” - "The Book of Tea", by Okakura Kakuzo.

     I absolutely love this quote from the “Book of Tea”, (a book that I have only just begun to dip into, and highly recommend) because it not only describes the power of tea, but aptly states the purpose of the small rituals that we all incorporate into our lives. A cup of tea is a small thing, but my day is absolutely incomplete without it.

For this reason, I decided to devote my post this month to this wonderful beverage. 

      I began drinking tea at a pretty young age. My earliest memories of drinking it on a regular basis was when I went to India at age 9. Chai is served at many shops there in tiny glasses which I remember always being really excited about. My family there had chai in the mornings and afternoons, sometimes several times. After that trip, I began to pay more attention to this drink that all of the adults in my family consumed. I began drinking chai once in a while, and it eventually progressed into me drinking it every day with my mom, when I came home from school, and often again with both of my parents later on in the day. It was, and still is, an extremely pleasant part of my day. Growing up, it provided structure and gave me time to unwind and talk about my day before I began studying. It was something I always looked forward to. 

    Since I have such warm memories tied to drinking tea with my family, I continue to drink tea in the mornings and afternoons now that I’m in university.  Sometimes I'll also have a cup at night, when I need to relax or caffeinate myself for an essay. I love how there can be a solitary, almost meditative aspect to drinking tea, in addition to it being a really great social activity. Whenever I have friends visiting me, I always give them tea, because growing up, tea was always offered to our guests. I've made so many like-minded friends who do the same thing and have tea collections that equal or rival mine. It can be such a wonderful way to connect with others and also to check in with oneself at the same time. 

     As I’ve gotten older, my taste in tea has certainly become refined and diverse. When I was young, I mostly drank chai and the occasional herbal tea, but I have developed a taste for a lot of other kinds in university, as well. Here are some of different kinds of tea I drink, and some of the brands and shops  I'd recommend! 

Chai: Chai is of course just another word for tea, but I'm referring to masala chai which is Indian style tea with spices. While my parents make excellent homemade ginger masala chai, which I miss very much and cannot wait to have again when I'm home, we often drank Tetley Masala chai which is the most consistently good bagged chai I have had. Other good tea bag brands: Rishi and Taylor's of Harrogate. I also will give a shout out to my favorite cafe to have chai at, which is Elchi Chai Shop on Harbord Street! It's super authentic and flavorful. 

Other black teas: I began consuming a lot Earl Grey tea when I began university. I can't explain why, but there is a very "academic" feel sometimes to Earl Grey and I like having it by my side when I'm studying. You can't go wrong with Twinnings tea bags, but I also enjoy Taylor's of Harrogate and Numi. I haven't explored a lot of loose leaf Earl Grey options, so hit me up if you have recommendations! The other black tea that I've grown to love is Lapsang Souchoung, which is a smoky black tea that smells like a campfire. You have to develop a taste for it, but once you do, it's incredible. Once again, Taylor's of Harrogate has it in the bag (see the pun?).

Green and herbal teas: Tetley brand de-caf green tea has never disappointed me. I also drink a lot of peppermint tea, which I enjoy from virtually any brand. And finally, I think simple lemon tea is underrated - I like plain lemon more than Lemon-Ginger fusions. I'd recommend President Choice's "Lemon Thriller", which is made from lemongrass and citrus peel.

I hope you enjoyed this article and that you may be inspired go make yourself (or buy yourself) a nice hot cup of this timeless and limitless drink. And that's the tea on tea!

(I promised my friend Antonella that I would end my post with that phrase).