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There’s always time for tea

Progressive Forage Editor Joy Hendrix Published on 31 March 2020

Every small town has a group of farmers who meet up every morning to mull over the world’s problems while they drink their second cup of coffee (the first one was consumed while the morning chores were being done).

I now equate this morning meeting as the rural form of a traditional tea party. Allow me to explain myself.

I should begin with a disclosure: I don’t like tea in any form. No matter what flavor it’s infused with or how much sugar it was brewed with, I don’t care for it. I never had any terrible experiences with it, but I always dreaded informing my mom that I had a sore throat because I knew it would result in me sitting at the kitchen table being forced to drink some mixture of warm leaf water until I had consumed it all.

Despite my aversion of the drink, I found myself having tea with some friends while on vacation a few months ago. They wanted to participate in the teatime and choosing not to participate would have meant sacrificing a few hours of time with them, which is a rarity since we live over 1,000 miles away from each other. I was also promised fresh pastries, so I obliged.

The room was just quiet enough to hear the occasional teacup and saucer collide over the murmur of casual conversation. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in the warmth of the late-afternoon sun and made the ceremonial white tablecloths seem brighter than they actually were. At first glance, it looked a proper tea party – until it was filled with guests wearing their best beach attire. The glow from the tablecloths was quickly overshadowed by the bright red sunburns of unsuspecting beachgoers.

For the next hour-and-a-half, we went through the ritual of pouring tea and filling our (too small for my liking) plates with lemon bars and cucumber sandwiches. We took our time with our treats, laughing and talking without any distractions. Not one person looked at a screen or checked the time. We were all fully focused on savoring our drinks and being together, and for the first time I understood what afternoon tea actually is.

In reality, it isn’t about the drink at all. It is the designated time of each day to slow things down and savor. In several part of Europe, making tea is something used to make the most of lulls in the middle of the day.

The longtime ritual of making tea can be soothing in stressful moments. It is a universal way to form connections with people and comfort others. For some people, like my co-worker Kristen (the graphic designer for this issue), having tea parties is a way to spend time with her kids and create memories with them.

A study done in 2008 by psychologists at Yale found that people were found to think of others as more generous and caring after they had consumed a warm drink. The study connected that people experiencing physical warmth were more likely to experience interpersonal warmth as well, or what they also refer to as the “warm fuzzies.”

There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world right now; the last month has been a roller coaster for markets and everyone is on the edge of their seat wondering what will happen next. The background noise of most of everyone’s day seems to be filled with panic and uncertainty.

My strategy is to make time for tea, taking some time each day to mute the background noise in those lulls. I encourage you to do the same, or go join the local group of farmers for their morning meet-up. Who knows, by next month, I may even be drinking the tea, but in the meantime, I’ll continue to reward myself for the effort with the lemon bars.  end mark

Joy Hendrix
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