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In all the hustle-bustle of life, one antidote is a satisfying cup of tea. Prepared just as you like, it is a treat completely and utterly indulged in by you alone. One needn't be a sybarite to savor the finest teas in a quiet little nook at home, shop or office; think of it as inexpensive, but none-the-less effective, mental health moment...Tea & Therapy. Use your T & T session to experiment with new teas and the many ways to make them. Most importantly, this is a time for tranquility.
Tea is a simple beverage, water and leaves, yet its liquor can soothe, ease, relax and send our cares away. It is a drink for the centuries, nearly five thousand years old now, and it is as fresh as it was when first discovered. (Tea is somewhat of an accident: a Chinese emperor noticed that some leaves from a nearby bush had fallen into a water pot near him. An adventurous sort, he tasted the drink and was pleasantly stimulated yet comfortably relaxed -- he had discovered what is now the world's most popular beverage.)
You can discover the wonders and the power of tea as well.
First Come the Pots
Nothing is more suitable for a Solo Tea experience than the original teapot, the Yixing. Pronounced "E-ching," these charming collectible pots can be starkly simple with designs that are more than 500 years old. More likely, they are whimsical: shaped like lotus flowers, Buddhas, or pre-Majolica subjects like fruits, vegetables or animals. Contemporary pots come in shapes such as chairs, wheelbarrows or other whimsical styles that never fail to bring a smile to one's face.
The importance of the Yixing pot lies in its special, red clay, only found in the Yunnan province of Mainland China. It is porous, absorbs odors easily and is always unglazed. This is why you should only use one variety of tea in the pot. After a time, sometimes years, the pot will take on the character of your favorite tea.
Because they are prized by collectors, Yixing teapots are everywhere, but it is critical to deal with vendors who really know their merchandise to avoid machine-made pots or poorly-made knockoffs of traditional shapes. Like any other product, a finely made teapot holds the heat longer, is more comfortable to the hands and, critically important, will pour better. They can be expensive, so you may want to experiment first with one of the machine-made ones, and use it to learn how to make tea in the Chinese style. As a wonderful side benefit, a finely-made Yixing pot should last a lifetime.
If, however, you just want to buy these pots for their aesthetic appeal, buy what attracts you. Most pots are either the reddish clay of Yunnan (sometimes referred to as purple) or brown clay. However, various ores in the clay are used for decoration and, sometimes, for entire pots. The ore colors are ochre, black, brown, and teal, the latter color frequently oxidized to bring out its blue-green hue.
Yixing teapots are available at most fine gift and tea shops which usually also carry whimsically-shaped tea caddies, miniature teapots and gung-fu tea ceremony accessories.
Next Comes the Tea
Wondering what to brew in your Yixing pot? The most important question is to first determine what tea you want to brew in it. For the large-leaf oolong, ironically, it is the smaller pot, usually three inches in diameter that is most suitable. Small pots are also good for fresh green teas. Blacks are best in one and two-cup sized teapots as are puer. Because the pot is unglazed, the pot will take on flavors so always dedicate a pot to just one type of tea! Online sources and tea shops are now everywhere and the quality of teas has grown so that the finest quality is now available to everyone.
Creating Your Own Solo Tea Experience
To best enjoy your solo tea moment, set aside a special area in your home. Whether it’s the kitchen table, the end of a never-used dining table or an alcove with a comfy chair and nearby end table, make it elegant and serene. In the kitchen or at your solo tea spot, bring together all the accoutrements you will need: your beautiful teapot, good quality tea, strainer, cup and a kettle for heating up spring water. Heat the water, brew the tea, savor in peace and quiet. Empty your mind of to-do lists and anxiety and allow the tea to warm you, and work its magic to relax your body as it clarifies your mind. Solo tea…a low cost, essential blessing to nourish body and soul. Make it a ritual and, if possible, do it at the same time each day before everyone arises in the morning, a time-out for you in the afternoon or, especially when your workday is done. You will reap the rewards of this meditative experience for hours, even days.
Diana Rosen is a freelance writer for web site copy and print magazine articles on food, beverage, and other lifestyle topics. The veteran journalist is also the author of 10 nonfiction books and the co-author of three others including several on tea: CHAI: The Spice Tea of India, Taking Time for Tea and MEDITATIONS WITH TEA, Paths to Inner Peace, available wherever books are sold. For more information, visit write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.