As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness... – Laura Ingalls Wilder
Over the last couple months, my wife and I have started enjoying afternoon tea. Most days we try to busy ourselves with useful activities rather than overdosing on news. Back in China we had a jade tabletop designed for tea, but here we use our small birch wood table. Many people are familiar with the elaborate Japanese tea ceremony, but that is only for special occasions. Chinese enjoy drinking tea with friends, family and business associates, as a way to maintain relationships. And teahouses are more about socializing than drinking tea.
In the late afternoon we stop whatever we are doing and enjoy tea together. This is a comforting habit. The tea we enjoy most is from Hong’s home province in China. It is called Liu Bao Tea. Liu Bao is a semi-fermented tea similar to the more well known Pu-erh tea. The tea helps clean the body of cholesterol and toxins. My wife’s father drinks this tea every day and he is a very healthy 82 years old. To make tea Chinese style, you have to: rinse the tea several times with boiled water before serving. We put goji berries in the tea for their antioxidant and body strengthening effects.
To prepare for social distancing during the pandemic, we bought several extra pounds of beef and made homemade beef jerky, because it is easier to store long term. We always have a few snacks with our tea: jerky, fruit, crackers… The large red dates in the first photo are hong zao. They help the Qi, life energy, calmness, digestion, blood circulation and many other benefits. Plus they taste nice. We use our gongfu tea set. The cups are small to stretch out the time and relax more. Our little table sits between two windows, as we enjoy the tea we watch various birds, admire the flowers and chat. We are grateful for this pleasant time together.
For now, our lives have been rendered down to the essential. With so much uncertainty, this is also the perfect time to start some new comforting everyday habits. Make the time now to press pause and relax. Treat yourself to a favorite tea, coffee, cocoa, whatever brings you contentment. Whether you share it with ones you love or enjoy a few solitary moments, celebrate your everyday life. For this life is truly a blessing. Peace