The Magic of Tea
“A cup of tea fixes everything.”
This pearl of wisdom rolled off the tongue of Carol Brown of Mrs Oldbucks Pantry and she is sooooo right. What is it about tea that makes everything that little bit better??
We are big tea drinkers in The Fold office. One of us has it super strong – don’t forget to keep the bag in!! Another has a cup as soon as she walks in the door – there is no functioning of brain or writing of words until that cup has hit the bottom of her tummy. Our fearless leader has an afternoon pick-me-up and the other two? Well, they’re all about the coffee, but we’re working on them!
So we were chatting about tea one day and talking about how it seems to be making a comeback! We wanted to know more about why this ancient (and natural) elixir has evolved from Granny’s teapot (there were ALWAYS tea leaves in your cup at Granny’s!) into a wellbeing tool and a part of so many people’s daily ritual. So we dropped in to have a cuppa with Carol from Mrs Oldbucks Pantry – they stock a humungous range of beautiful quality and affordable teas - to chat more about tea and its awesome qualities.
For all the tea in China
So let’s start at the beginning……tea has been around for centuries! In fact, it was such a prized commodity at one point, it became quite the trading tool! Legend has it that tea was ‘discovered’ when some leaves fell into water that was being boiled for a Chinese Emperor – we’re talking 5000 years ago here, people – he tasted it, liked it and voila – tea!
When Japanese Buddhist scholars visited China, they found tea to their liking and brought it back to Japan where it became a revered part of their society with tea-drinking ceremonies (still super popular today). The Portuguese were the first of the Europeans to bring tea to the west when missionaries who had lived in Asia brought it back home to Portugal with them.
And the English are quite famous for tea, right? But they were blissfully unaware of tea until Charles II married a Portuguese princess who insisted on drinking tea. Of course, English high society wanted to keep up with the Jones’s / Royal Family so started partaking too – no doubt, with the pinkie raised!
Rituals and mindfulness
The Japanese brought a mindfulness element to tea with tea drinking ceremonies. The purpose? To enjoy and savour an atmosphere distinct from the fast pace of everyday life – even back then, they were onto something! More affluent members of society turned these ceremonies as an opportunity to well….show off! Any chance to get out the fancy china, right? But in the 1500’s, the father of modern tea – Sen no Rikyu – encouraged a more zen and simple approach to tea drinking ceremonies.
“It’s a beautiful thing to create your own ritual around drinking tea,” Carol says.
“When I first took over Mrs Oldbucks, I wasn’t sleeping so well. Many business owners would understand!”
“So I started an evening tea drinking ritual which calms me down and prepares me for sleep – like a baby!”
Yep, good point! Babies have a ritual they go through before being put down for a sleep. A bath, fresh PJ’s, lullabies, a story. It soothes them and prepares their little bodies for sleep.
And us grown-ups should do the same!
“I turn off all devices and take my time stepping through the process of making my tea. I’ll place the tea into an infuser mug – it’s always loose leaf tea for me – breathe in the delicious aroma it’s creating and wait while it steeps (6-8 minutes for an herbal tea),” Carol says.
“Waiting for it slows me down and I take the infuser mug to bed with me and sip it while I read.”
“It’s a calming process for me and slows my mind and body down in preparation for a good night’s sleep.”
A natural approach to wellbeing
For centuries, many cultures have understood how to use herbs and roots within tea blends for wellbeing purposes.
“We have so many people coming into the store looking for a remedy of some sort,” Carol says.
“Especially our wonderful Asian customers. It’s such a normal part of their culture to proactively manage their health with tea.”
“I have a customer who comes over from Hong Kong, packs up a load of our teas and takes them back home. Another customer loves our lemongrass and ginger tea so makes a special trip to come and get some.”
Mrs Oldbucks Pantry has over 160 varieties of tea so there is plenty to help you with whatever you may need.
“We’re not medical professionals, for sure. But we do know, thanks to thousands of years of research and age old traditions, that different types of tea has health benefits,” Carol says.
Ginger and peppermint is great for digestion or soothing sore tummies.
Valerian root can assist with sleep.
Raspberry leaf tea is helpful for mums to be in their third trimester.
Hibiscus blossom is good for high blood pressure.
Stinging nettle is a fantastic anti-inflammatory so can help with anything from arthritis to menopause to endometriosis.
And the list goes on……Oh, and we loved Mim Beim’s collection of tea blends available in store. Mim is a naturopath in Bowral and has created some fabulous blends including Nighty Night, Bright Eyed and Bushy Tailed, Glow (great for skin challenges!), Tonic and Nighty Night.
“I’m a big fan of Mim’s Nighty Night blend. Definitely tried and tested,” Carol laughs.
Solutions and the social element
It seems tea is the drink of choice for many an occasion!
Just had a new baby? Let me get you a cup of tea. Not feeling well? I’ll get you a cuppa. Sad news? Here have this – it will make you feel better. Baby shower? High tea time, girls!!
“We use tea when we don’t know what to do in a situation too,” Carol says.
“Popping the kettle on and making someone a cup of tea is a way for us to contribute when we feel helpless.”
And what about how it brings people together for celebrations? Well, we have the Duchess of Bedford to thank for the concept of afternoon tea or high tea if you want to get la-di-da about it. Back in the 1840’s she found herself getting a little peckish around the 3-4pm mark, right? We’ve all been there! In fact, that’s when our office biscuit tin seems to become super-popular.
She worked out that a cup of tea paired with a mini sanga or scone would see her through until her fancy pants dinner and high tea was born, which is now used to bring groups of people together for celebratory occasions such as baby showers or bridal showers! Fun!
Nice one, Duchess.
So how do you drink it?
“I love that tea is so versatile,” Carol says.
“There is black tea, white tea, oolong, fruit melange (great for iced teas!), green tea, chais, roots and herbs, herbal blends…there is so much available to suit anyone really!”
“One of our favourites is the dragon eye. It’s a hand rolled mix of jasmine, white tea and green tea which turns into a flower when it’s placed in hot water. You can use it for 2 – 3 days, just keep topping it up – refreshing AND pretty!”
So, what are the steeping rules?
Black tea: 5 minutes
Herbal tea: 7 minutes
Green tea: 3 minutes
“And use loose-leaf where you can,” Carol says.
“Not only is it better for the environment but because it’s a larger looser sort of tea, the flavour and aroma is better.”
“Take the time to steep your tea and just stop your world for a few minutes. Get lost in the moment and take some time to mindfully enjoy your tea. Create your own little ritual – it’s a nice way to step out of all the crazy and busy for a few minutes a day.”
Mrs Oldbucks Pantry in Berrima stocks over 160 varieties of high quality and affordable tea. They also have a gorgeous selection of teapots (we LOVE the glass ones!) and accessories. And of course all the other delicious bits and bobs – sauces, lollies, chutneys, jams and more – they are so well known for! Pop in and say hi to Carol and the team. Oh, and you can taste tea instore too or grab a few sample packs for just $3 each. Love it!
The 'boring' important disclaimer bit you need to read! This blog post has been created for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. That means - go and seek medical advice! Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. Never disregard their advice or delay going to see them because of something you have read in this blog.