If you follow me on Instagram @teainfusiast or have been reading this blog for a while (and previous posts like this one), you may have already noticed that I credit tea for helping me bring more mindfulness into my life. I don’t want to misrepresent myself. Sometimes, I am quickly splashing tea into a mug and running to a meeting or the next thing. But, most days, at least once a day, I slow down and have a mindful cup of tea.
What makes a mindful cup of tea? Really paying attention to the tea leaves, the steps in the process of steeping them, and how we experience and enjoy the steeped tea can all contribute to mindfulness.* In this post, I would like to focus on the sounds we hear while preparing and enjoying tea–those tea soundscapes. Paying more attention to our unintentional and intentional tea soundscapes can bring more mindfulness into our day.
Dividing Tea Soundscapes by Source
Let’s start considering the sounds furthest away (and often least under our control) and then move to the sounds of the activity of making tea.
For the sounds external to the tea preparation, can you hear birds chirping, the wind shaking the leaves on the trees, or rain lashing against the window? Maybe you hear cars driving by or a neighbor’s lawn mower. What about indoor sounds like family members talking, pets rustling around, or appliances humming?
We often don’t have much influence over our background noises. We might or might not notice them. Sometimes, we might be able to change where were are enjoying our tea in order to change the mood or influence that background noises might have on our tea sessions. I remember, for example, a month when there was a giant piece of machinery outside my office window. It made VERY loud beeping noises every few minutes. Not conducive to a pleasant or restful tea session AT ALL! For that month, I would steep tea in my office and then move to another location to enjoy drinking it. That different tea soundscape made a big difference in what those tea sessions felt like.
What common background sounds can you notice when you are preparing or enjoying tea? Can you remember a time when the background sounds particularly enhanced your experience? What sounds contributed to that experience?
Sounds Associated with Tea
There are SO MANY sounds we might hear as part of preparing and interacting with the tea. We might hear:
- the rustle and rumble of water heating in a kettle
- the creak of a cabinet door as we open it to remove our teaware
- the whoosh of tea sliding down a tea scoop or dropping from our hand into a teapot
- the glug of water pouring into a gaiwan, teapot, or bowl
- the hiss of chai as it bubbles and climbs up the sides of a chai pot
- the tap as our teapot or gaiwan lid shifts when we pour tea
- the clink of rock sugar crystals (if we use them) as they swirl and collide when the tea is poured
- the jangle of a spoon gently hitting the side of the cup
There are so many other tea-related sounds we might notice and relish. What sounds do you regularly notice when preparing tea? By focusing on the tea soundscape, what other sounds could you add to your awareness?
The sound of water heating in a kettle will always bring me a sense of anticipation and a little jolt of happiness. I also especially love the sound of tea leaves sliding down a tea scoop. What tea sounds particularly delight you?
Mindful of Tea Soundscapes
When I focus on a sense, or all my senses, while preparing and enjoying tea, it elevates my experience. As I direct my attention to notice and become aware of what I am hearing, it immerses me in the moment and the experience. It reminds me that I am here and this is now. When I am in the mindfulness zone, I feel like the moment is simultaneously full and spacious. It’s full of sensations I can notice. And, it’s simultaneously spacious because focusing my attention on my senses often helps declutter my thoughts.
Tea quietly invites me to have these mindful moments. Thank you, tea. Thank you.
I would love to know what your experience with tea soundscapes has been like and what you think about the role of sound in your mindfulness practice. Please feel free to leave a comment if you would like to share.
*HUGE and hearty thank you and shout out to Sooz Hammond from Being Tea for their weekly Quiet Tea Sunday classes and to Sooz and Adam Grossi for their weekly Tea & Contemplation classes. These classes have meaningfully and powerfully contributed to deepening my tea and mindfulness practice. I am so grateful to Sooz and Adam and VERY HIGHLY recommend their classes.