I attended a tea workshop with my girls at Silk Road back in November. Silk Road is a beautiful tea shop down on Government Street in Chinatown. Their teas are organic, selectively sourced and free of artificial or “natural” flavouring. I am a huge fan, and buy my tea there exclusively (with the exception of Harmonic Arts, another fabulous, Vancouver Island based company). The woman teaching the workshop has since become a friend, but at that point I was in the process of getting to know her over a series of visits and previous workshops.
I was intrigued by what she said about the importance of ceremony and ritual. She brought out a tray, and went through the process of prepping the tea pot and cups by pouring hot water over them. She commented that spilling water and making a mess was a very important part of the process. This hit home for me, as a recovering type “A” and perfectionist, the idea of colouring (or in this case pouring) outside the lines was both scary and strangely inviting. I was captivated by the tiny cups, laid out in a row, waiting to be savoured. I loved the process of slowing down, taking a few moments to prepare the tea before indulging in the first sip. It was a beautiful practice, allowing us to fully experience the present moment. I found myself eyeing the tea sets behind the counter, wondering if there was a way we could incorporate this kind of ritual into our day to day life.
We wandered around the shop afterwards, and I happened upon their Lullaby tea, a gorgeous blend of chamomile, peppermint, lemon balm, lavender, and rose petals. My husband had arrived with my son in the meantime, and I asked him what he thought about holding a nightly tea ritual with the kids. I was uncertain as to how he would respond, as our year in Korea left me with an overly developed attachment to pottery, most of which we no longer own. When I explained my idea he thought it was a good one, and we consulted with our kids before selecting a clay teapot with a smiling buddha on top. We paired it with a small pouring bowl and five small cups. The cups didn't match the pot or bowl, which irked me at first until I realized that was kind of the point. Letting go of perfection, allowing for spills, and embracing the moment, exactly as is. An important life lesson I think!
We carried the tea set home, stopping in another shop in Chinatown for a bamboo tray. That night we tried out the tea set for the first time. The kids were all very excited, waiting in their pyjamas for the water to boil and the tea to steep, before we finally sat down for the tea service. We decided to take turns answering three questions: What was your favourite moment today? What are you grateful for? And finally, What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
We have been practicing this nightly ritual for several months now, and I am often surprised and touched by my girls' answers. Their recollections and expressions of gratitude often focus on unexpected moments or incidents. My son just turned 3 and gets the general idea, if not the technicalities of the experience, answering “my moment, 'morrow” for the first few months. This has gradually evolved to touching on a specific moment or experience that was significant to him. He is going through a very rambunctious stage at the moment, but you would never know it to see him handle the tiny clay cups with care and attention.
Bedtime can be a crazy experience at times; three tired kids jacked up on a post-food high doesn't make for the most relaxing bedtime ritual. The practice of taking time to sit, pour our tea, take the first sip and reflect on our day has been a wonderful way to slow down, and appreciate each other's company.
Do you have daily rituals you practice either as a family or individually? What impact has this practice had on your life?