The expression ‘The Art of Tea” is heard quite often but not the phrase ” The Theatre of Tea” until now. Mark Thirwall is one of only four Australian World Tea Judges, and the ‘Theatre of tea’ is his approach to tea. Mark wants all Australians to slow down and take more time to prepare and drink tea. To discover the stories behind different tea brews and to develop a greater appreciation of tea drinking.
Taking the time to make a perfect cup of tea is a gentle way to remember the simple things in life. Painting by English artist, William Henry Margetson (1871-1940)
Covid restrictions in recent years have taught many of us to question what we value most in life and to enjoy what makes us happy. And this key cultural shift provides an opportunity to take stock, be grateful and gain contentment from our lives but also to change our routine to maximise our enjoyment of everyday things. Also, it is a chance to spend more time doing the things that are important to us and to be more mindful and delight in your own everyday routine.
Savouring a well-made pot of tea is one of the easiest ways to increase mindfulness in our daily lives. It is a small yet effective way to heighten our experience of taking a break, enhancing the relaxation time, the beverage, and the process of making tea with beautiful objects and utensils. Painting by Denis Sarazhin.
Slow living is similar and is a phrase we often hear in recent times. It is an overall rethink of how we do things and is a set of values that believes faster isn’t always better. The slow-living movement advocates living better but not faster and focuses on simplicity, minimalism, mindfulness and sustainability.
Slow-living in small everyday moments, like the morning cup of tea or coffee, taking the time to notice the peace and quiet, the favourite mug, teapot, cup and saucer. Taking the time to enjoy the stunning view from a balcony, a quiet spot in the garden or a peaceful welcome place on the way to work.
Involving oneself in the theatre of tea is an opportunity to evaluate and prioritise what is important and to spend time with people we love rather than mindlessly rushing from one thing to the next without intention or awareness.
We don’t all need to move to the country to enjoy a slower pace of life. Slow living is not about doing everything ‘slowly’. It is not lazy or old-fashioned or against technology but is more based on savouring life.
Unfortunately, our cafes are more inclined towards coffee and often only provide the tea drinker with a coffee cup and a pot of hot water with a sad-looking teabag on the side.So home is where the best cups of tea can be found and probably the best place to make tea. When at home, one is not usually in a rush, and tea can be made just the way you want and enjoyed in solitude or with your chosen company.
Tea is a perfect commodity to appreciate the elements of the slow living movement. Knowing exactly where our tea leaves are grown, when it was harvested and how it was processed all add to the enjoyment of tea.
From fast to slow are the endless ways that tea can be enjoyed. Consider a quick teabag in a cup at work at one end of the spectrum to a traditional ancient tea ceremony and all the different ways of tea along the way. The bottled iced tea off the supermarket shelf or a quick teabag in a mug, a brew of tea bags in a teapot, a brew of tea leaves in your favourite teapot to the other end of the spectrum of single estate, single harvest tea freshly made; all form part of the modern way of tea.
Chanoyu which means ‘hot water for Tea’ is the ultimate slow tea tradition. It is an ancient ritual of the Japanese Tea Ceremony. The Tea ceremony aesthetic is the principle of Wabi, which is the value given to the appreciation of beauty and simplicity in everyday life.
There are basic elements of slow living that improve well-being, lessen over-work and reduce chaos and stress in life.
- Live in the present.
- Approach everyday life more balanced and slowly.
- A more mindful presence.
- Connect with the local community; socially and as a consumer.
- Maintain a sense of purpose and passion.
- Minimise and consume less.
- Value relationships.
- Focus on what matters.
- Find joy in the sensory environment around you.
Whatever way you enjoy tea, it is always worth taking the time to think about the taste and experiment with different tea blends, tea origins and styles. These are my favourite sources
Content Di Baker 2022
Artworks as cited