Lifestyle Wellbeing

tea ceremony

February 14, 2012

I am delighted to start a new column on something that’s close to my heart: slow living. After the very sad news of whitney houston’s passing and in view that it’s valentine’s day today, i thought it appropriate to mark this day in this way.

Personally i am not a great fan of valentine’s day, (except when combined with self nurture like shown here by Jennifer) for the same reason i am not in favour of new year’s resolutions. These seem to be stipulated by traditions and have very little to do with the reality of everyday living. I am more interested in finding sustainable ways to support my everyday life so that i can hopefully function at my best and achieve my potential. I know that when i’m ok, the people around me are ok and when i love myself i am more able to truly love another.

In this column i will talk about ways that I find help me with attempting to self love. They are personal to me. Maybe some of you will resonate, others won’t and that’s totally ok. Whichever way, i hope to inspire and stimulate discussions and to learn about your ways and methods to take care of ‘yourselves’. Hope some of you will join me on this ride.

Since i don’t drink coffee or tea and haven’t for 20 years, i’ve had to find other solutions to satisfy my need for hot drinks. Over the years, my choices of such beverages changed. Whereas before i was happy with a chamomile or peppermint teabag (that used to be about the extend of choice in cafes and restaurants), nowadays there is far more choices on the market and the non-traditional tea market has exploded over the past few years. What has equally exploded is my way of tea drinking. These days i make a point of having a tea ceremony even if time does not permit. Before you all shout at the screen: i haven’t got time, i’ve got work, husbands, b/f, g/f, kids, dogs, cats, crafts, blogging, cooking, socializing and so on, just stay with this. It takes no time, or the same time as gulping down a starbucks concoction.

The tea ceremony is there to stop me in my tracks from rushing around, going at 100 miles per hour and forgetting that i haven’t even taken a deep breath today. It’s there to help me gain some awareness in what’s otherwise a crazy and mad day. It also helps with dehydration, which is more important than people like to think.  I do this whether i am at home or out. When out, i seek places that serve some of my favourite hot drinks, either fresh mint with hot water or sliced lemon and fresh ginger with hot water. One such place is the wonderful leon that’s saved me many times from starvation and thirst.

When home i have more choices and can indulge. Here you won’t find a teabag in sight. I prefer fresh leaves when it comes to camomile or green and japanese teas. I also use unbleached teabags that I fill with my favouirite tea leaves so i am prepared when travelling, especially on planes (yes, in 2012 they are still only serving tea and coffee unless you fly business or first class).

It goes without saying that my need for excellent product design, together with the search for beauty and aesthetics keeps me on my toes when acquiring new tea ceremony favourites. Well, i hope you enjoy some of my collection.

I first saw this teapot with lid and infuser at Tate Britain. I want every colour! It’s ingenious as it has beauty and functionality in equal measures.

There is something lovely about hot drinks in a glass. I love the simplicity of the felt. These were bought in one of my favourite cafés in berlin.

This korean crackle glazed teapot and cup is from east teas in borough market.

Another purchase from east teas. This time a korean teacup with its own strainer and lid. Ideal for steeping green tea. Ideal for taking to the office.

Ah, my special find. I found this in my favourite paul smith shop in borough market.

My beloved moomin mugs. I chose one here that might make the pro valentines brigade go awwww.

Smaller sized version found at paul smith. Btw, if you can’t find them any longer it’s because i bought the whole lot.

I love this. The tray is made out of bamboo and you put your leaves into the small teapot. Let it sit for a couple of minutes and then immediately pour into the glass pitcher. The idea is that the tea doesn’t get too strong and that you can re-use the leaves a couple of times. I bought this from jing tea. I just saw they don’t offer this anymore but have something similar here.

This teapot warmer is my latest addition, thanks to my friend michael in germany who introduced me to this ingenious method. It comes in two different sizes and lots of different colours.

I buy my teas from the following suppliers: jing teas, east tea, postcard teas.

For more beautiful tea wear hop over to Nicola’s site. Here is what it’s about: “tea and related ephemera to look at during afternoon tea break. Always added at 4 o’clock.” Isn’t that charming?

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  • Reply Nicola February 14, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Thank you so much Tina for your lovely kind comment – I love being described as charming! Hugo Macdonald has written a Charming Index in the February edition of Monocle so I’m well chuffed and well on trend!
    This is another wonderful post, you put me to shame!
    I’ve just read ‘I Quit Sugar’ by Sarah Wilson. She recommends various ways to distract oneself from one of those sweet craving moments. One is to have a little tea ceremony, “the tea straining ritual also distracts me nicely.”
    I love the forlife teapots too, so simple and so clever. I love jing teas and Postcard teas too. My other favourite place is Teasmith in Spitalfields, the antidote to Starbucks. I think we should meet there to stop and think – and drink – soon.

    • Reply tina February 14, 2012 at 11:00 pm

      If you’ve seen my ‘design porn’ post on magazines you know I read Monocle (love). Must check the Feb issue. I loved your ABOUT page. Totally charming!!

      Coming off sugar is not as hard as people believe. There are tips and tricks that I’m happy to share.

      I literally was besotted when I first saw the forlife teapots a few years ago. They are fantastic in every sense. At that time I bought mine from heals and they only had red and white. Now Amazon sells most colours which is great. I struggle with space, otherwise I would have loads of them in various colours.

      You know my last post was so long that I worried I will loose readers if I start on my fav tea places. I really like teasmith and am in Shoreditch tomorrow so might pop in. Starbucks who?

      Yes, definitely, lets hook up to go there and exchange tea anecdotes and other musings. Tweet me when you’re coming into London. I’m only 15 mns away. See you soon x

  • Reply Theresa February 15, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Really lovely post and daily practice, Tina. I agree, when you want/need something badly enough (especially for the soul and mind), you will find and make time for it. While I had that terrible cough a couple of weeks ago, I got off coffee and was downing hot water with lemon and honey. I rather liked it. I would boil water and then squeeze the lemon in the cup. However, I like your idea of putting the lemons right in the pot. I’m still going to wish you a Happy Love Day! 🙂

    • Reply tina February 15, 2012 at 7:38 am

      Happy Love day to you too:)…. did you have a nice one?

      I think it’s not always easy to be kind to ourselves in everyday to day life. I often have to help myself with little routines and reminders.

      I’m glad you liked the hot water with lemon and honey. Here is another variation for you:
      In a pot like in the last pic, you can put:
      unwaxed lemons, some lime, fresh ginger, slices of oranges and/or grapefruits. (my friend Michael makes this for me when I come to visit). It makes drinking water more interesting and has the side benefit of being really good for you:)

  • Reply Erin February 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    I can’t imagine how you survive without being totally ostracized for being British but not drinking tea. I’m only half British (both my grandfathers families) but I drink tea like it’s going out of style. Well, that and water. I don’t drink coffee or soda, I can’t handle caffeine. So I drink decaf tea and tons of pure, healthy water. I’m curious as to what your reasons for going off tea/coffee were? Don’t feel obligated to share if you don’t want to! Just being nosy.

    I love tea ephemera though. Your Paul Smith tea pots are so cute. I have an all glass one from my dad, with an infuser and a glass base with a hole for a tea-candle. It’s the most delicate piece of kitchen equipment I own, and it’s absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing your collection!

    • Reply tina February 15, 2012 at 11:14 pm

      Darling, I’m not British. I am German:)

      I visited my first nutritionist in 1992. I found out I had food intolerances and made a decision to come off coffee, tea, sugar, wheat and dairy. The coffee and tea stuck, whereby I sometimes slip on the sugar, wheat and dairy. All this set off my interest in how food/nutrition affects our health.

      The glass tea pot your dad gave you sounds nice. When I come to visit you can gladly serve me tea from it:)

      PS. The moomin mug choice was for you!

  • Reply Toni February 16, 2012 at 8:48 am

    What a lovely uplifting piece! I agree with your sentiment on Valentine’s and New Year, and the importance of keeping content and happy in our everyday life. Loving the red teapot too!

    • Reply tina February 16, 2012 at 8:57 am

      So, where is that yellow pouffe from? I did spot a red kettle on your hob:)

      Hope you are having a good week x

  • Reply Toni February 16, 2012 at 10:00 am

    The pouf is from South Africa! Ain’t got no red kettle luv.

  • Reply Erin February 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    I didn’t even mention how cute the Moomin one is! I love Moomin 🙂

    I’ll gladly serve you from the glass kettle when you come round! And i didn’t realize you were German! I guess I just assumed you were British. My apologies! I feel you on the food intolerances. Me and milk….we don’t get along too well, either. xx

    • Reply tina February 17, 2012 at 12:34 am

      @ erin I like some of my other moomin designs better, like stinky, for example. But I wanted for you to go awwww on Vday. So tribute to you!

      I am not fussy, you can serve me tea anyway you like. I’ll be smiling as would see you face to face:)
      I am a Kraut but have been here for 31 years so really consider myself more British than German. In fact, in 2013, my passport runs out and I’m thinking of becoming British. Woa!!

      It’s difficult with intolerances but there are so many alternatives on the market that I end up not missing whatever i can’t have x

      @catherine Thank you. It’s interesting. I have to agree that when I stop and have some tea (or hot water with lemon) I feel instantly refreshed, calm and de-stressed. It is in these moments that we often find clarity and that zen feeling.

      About a year ago I went to a tea ceremony hosted by a chinese restaurant. They had flown in a tea master and she performed a ceremony with us. It was really inspiring and I loved the sense of eastern tradition and history. I also liked that we were sampling different teas in different tea wares.

      I bet your japanese friend’s tea ceremony was rather special.

      @ursula Now that’s what I call romantic. After being together was so long he still knows how to make it extra special! Brilliant!

  • Reply Catherine Bedson February 16, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    What an inspiring beautiful collection, I love tea as well and always drink it when I’m not feeling well with lemon or lemon & honey. There is something so soothing about finding a calm space and drinking tea…We had a japanese friend visit a few years ago and she performed the tea ceremony for us. I always think it’s in these moments that our greatest creative ideas come to us.

  • Reply ursula (room to bloom) February 17, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Not hugely into Valentine’s Day either Tina – but liked it a lot when served unexpectedly with bucks fizz at 8 in the morning ; )

  • Reply annie February 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Erin, tina is far more likely to be ostracised for not drinking alcohol than tea! I could give up the magical elixir of coffee tomorrow but a Sunday afternoon without tea and cake? Never.

    When I moved to London, Richard bought me a silver tissane cup that I used to have hot water and lemon in in the mornings before work. It’s beautiful and reminds me of Poirot. But then I started getting up at 6am to write and it’s coffee all the way now!

    Love that Paul Smith shop in Borough, it’s so cute and personal!
    What a wonderful collection you have Tina. Great post, as always. Have a fab weekend!

    • Reply tina February 17, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      Thanks. I love the shop for its location, quirkyness and great staff. Also, I know Paul Smith really likes it and always has special things for sale there the others don’t have.

      Have a good weekend.

  • Reply Kate-Louise February 18, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    One of my favourite subjects 🙂 I’ll be checking out all the links. My favourite tea supplier at the moment is Yumchaa – their chelsea chai is delicious, wanderlust comes a close second. xKx

    • Reply tina February 18, 2012 at 9:26 pm

      Oh, Kate, I love finding new things. Thank you so much. Will definitely order some. Just checking out their site. Hope you are well. You’ve been quite x

  • Reply Michael February 19, 2012 at 10:32 am

    My dear,
    reading your blog gives us all a deep breath, whenever we need. And I need breathing a lot these days :). I was even able to “infect” my sister & mother to drink fresh ginger, lime and grapefruits in hit water. My Ma loves her teapot-warmer too – even if it´s not that stylish like the ones we found. In the busy days of renovate, repair and moving it is always the few seconds of taking a short break, drinking a cup, short breathing and relaxing that makes us keep going on and go ahead with new power.
    Love Micki

    • Reply tina February 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      Maybe you’re starting a hot water with ginger/lemon/ grapefruit revolution in Germany.
      I always look forward to visiting and having you make me that hot drink.

      So pleased your mum liked her teapot warmer. I certainly love mine.

      Yes, please remember to stop and breathe at this stressfull time when you’re moving house.

  • Reply Holly February 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Tina, you are full of great ideas. A tea ceremony to slow down and be present in the moment – perfect. I love all your tea stuff 🙂 Being more of a coffee drinker myself, I only have one tea pot. But, boy oh boy, do I love that pot! It belonged to my husband’s grandmother – a delicate white porcelain pot with an insert for loose tea, decorated in an blue oriental motif. We have the set, so the cups and saucers too. We drink oolong tea from it almost every evening after dinner. It’s been about a year now that we are on this oolong kick. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed any other tea that much. However, I do like an earl grey from time to time. We do enjoy the ritual of making tea – especially thanks to that pot. But I enjoy our coffee making ritual very much too. There’s just something about these hot drinks, I guess.

    Your post has inspired me to pay more attention to the hot drink ritual 🙂


    • Reply tina February 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm

      Thanks Holly for your lovely comments!

      There’s nothing nicer than to bestow beloved pieces to family members. Your husband’s grandmother’s teapot sounds awesome. I love your description: “a delicate white porcelain pot with an insert for loose tea, decorated in an blue oriental motif”.

      Your oolong ritual sounds nice. It is a wonderfull tea. There are many great teas and what I often do is go to dedicated teashops and try various new teas I haven’t come across. One such place in London is Postcard teas. There you can ask for different teas to be served. They serve them in exquisite tea ware and I always find a new ‘favourite’. Last time I was there, a young man was sipping his tea and reading a book. We got into a conversation and it turned out that he was a student at King’s College in London and this was his way to relax. He visits the teashop every week and stocks up on his favourites. I can tell you he knew much more than me and proceeded to share some of his knowledge and give me some recommendations. As a student he doesn’t have much money but assured me that he will always prioritise and seek out what is important to him. The rest of his fellow students spend that money in Starbucks. What an inspiring young man he was!

      Coffee is great, especially when done properly and your ritual sounds lovely. Anyway, everything in moderation, right? x

  • Reply Chi @ Carousel February 19, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Stunning collection, Tina! I ADORE Paul Smith but his teapots (gorgeous though they may be) are, sadly, far too pricey for me. 🙁

    I drink redbush (or rooibos) and herbal teas but I don’t drink coffee. I got into the habit of drinking loose leaf tea when I was pregnant. I bought a glass teapot with an integral strainer from Bodum and a selection of teas and it soon became the perfect way to unwind after a hard days’ work and a long commute.

    I once gave a friend some flowering tea with a glass teacup/saucer. It’s so relaxing watching the petals slowly unfurl in the water.

    I really enjoy “reading your mind”, so to speak – it’s so full of wonderful stories and great ideas for everyday life. I’m so looking forward to your next post! 😀

    • Reply tina February 19, 2012 at 10:03 pm

      Ha. Wondered when someone would comment on how they cannot afford…. I thrive on finding unique pieces that reflect my taste and are good value for money. It’s a myth that everything at Paul Smith is expensive but I agree that one has to know of the Borough Market shop to know that. Often he will surprise you with something you thought is out of reach. These teapots were £18 (small) and £24 (large). I bought about 15 all together, kept 2 small and 2 large ones and gave the rest away as presents. You already know about my love for present giving. Every time some more came in the lovely staff at the shop would call to tell me. So there:)

      I love rooibos but the plain not the different concoction they now have on the market. Bodum is wonderful and I have both tea and coffee pots from them.

      Awww, thank you for your kind words. I endeavour to continue to spill my thoughts. Isn’t that what blogging is all about, to reveal who we are? I just hope that people find it interesting and maybe get a little bit of inspiration from it. That’s what I look for when reading blogs:) You certainly do that for me x

  • Reply Lauren February 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    I had so many things that I was going to say, all lovely about this lovely post, and then I saw those wonderful Moomin Mugs and all the other thoughts went out the window! Moomin Mugs! If only they were available here! I’m going to spend some serious time on that website, for sure. The site of them has perked me right up. I drink tea everyday while I’m working, but never with much ceremony. I’m grateful for every sip, but your post reminds me to be more careful about my time. Thank you!

    • Reply tina February 20, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      I can’t believe they don’t sell the Moomin mugs in the States. That really surprises me. You can even get them from Amazon in the UK.
      Maybe you can find a retailer who will send it across, otherwise nudge us UK girls….

  • Reply Lauren February 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Sadly, Moomin never completely took off here, I don’t think, but I’ll start looking. I have found some Moomin fabric on Etsy, but that’s it. Callum and I scoured that site yesterday and had so much fun! We’ll enlist your help if we don’t have any luck! It’s nice having friends in high places!

    • Reply tina February 21, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      I’m still shocked about it, but seriously, if you want anything just ask. I can get discount:)

      Glad to see Callum better. Theresa right, often stress induced but normally food culprits. Worth investigating!

  • Reply Sophie February 22, 2012 at 12:29 am

    Tina, this is such a lovely post to read. A tea ceremony is a wonderful idea and I really look forward to your future posts on slow living – we all need to take time to appreciate ‘being’.

    I envy your tea collection, sadly I don’t have the room at the moment to have more than one teapot (one my kind sister and her boyfriend bought me one Christmas) but I must admit to having a secret desire to build a tea collection for every occasion.

    I think drinking hot drinks and chatting is such a relaxing past time. Our office make sure we sit and do this together once a day.

    & I love your moomin mug too! Very cute. I was recently given a Rob Ryan mug – my new favourite.

    • Reply tina February 22, 2012 at 12:42 am

      Awww, thank you. I wasn’t sure people would like this but it seems to be my most popular post:)

      In fact, today I was a little nervous and frazzled so I took my own advise and had a little tea ceremony, took some deep breaths and relaxed. It is a wonderful thing to do.

      Don’t worry, you will have room one day and then you can collect to your hearts content:) It is fun having a collection for every occasion. You know, what I like best is when I have guests and everyone can have their own choice and their own pot.

      I saw some lovely ones at the ‘home’ exhibition so lusting right now.

      I really like that your office makes a point of sitting together once a day. It is so morale boosting and encouraging.

      I love Rob Ryan so enjoy your new mug:)

  • Reply Jennifer March 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Tina! I just read this post and saw that you linked back to mine. Can’t believe I missed this, but I’m so totally behind in reading and visiting my favorite blogs lately! It’s two weeks late, but I have to say a big THANK YOU!!! Like so many others, I’m also a tea drinker – mostly green these days with a little honey. It is one of my crazy life’s small pleasures and it always makes me happy. BTW – that Paul Smith pot is divine!

    • Reply tina March 1, 2012 at 8:18 pm

      Jennifer, happy you finally saw it:) I kind of thought one of the gang would have alerted you to it…. I actually just mentioned it on Theresa’s site as she also referred to the same post:)

      Yes, I vary a little. At the moment I am into dried Vervaine and Red Hibiscus tea. But I love experimenting… it’s so calming in an otherwise hectic day!

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