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(post, Sarah Price)
Tea is ancient—so old, in fact, that we can’t be sure exactly when, how, or by whom it was discovered. There are countless stories of its first use and history has yet to prove which account, if any, is true. But the spread of tea is widely documented and proven to be due to a very particular sect of people: monks. Monks carried the seeds of tea plants with them as they traveled and grew them wherever they went, introducing the drink brewed from the mature leaves to consumers around the world. But… why? We are all tea drinkers; we like the flavor, the smell, and the effects. It was much the same for those early tea drinkers, with particular emphasis on the effects: tea aided the early monks in their practice of meditation, keeping them alert and focused. But… how? We’ve been talking about tea and health for nearly eight weeks. Most of the effects of tea that we’ve discussed have been physical, but we’ve touched on the way certain components in tea can effect the mind, as well. Caffeine helps us to stay awake, alert, and focused. Theanine, on the other hand, provides a calming effect on the body and makes us feel at peace. The combination of these two is unbeatable: calm alertness. Focused peace. The monks were tuned in to this. They drank tea and achieved a sort of mental jump-start to their meditation. Tea helped to calm and clear their thoughts for their religious ritual. It is in this way that tea benefits spirituality as much as mentality or physicality. Some good news: you don’t have to be a monk in order to prosper from tea’s spiritual offerings. You don’t even have to meditate—at least, not in the traditional sense. Manish explains this notion in this week’s show: the western idea of “tea time” is, in a sense, as good a meditation as any. When we take time out of our busy lives to enjoy a cup of tea, we allow ourselves to disconnect for a moment from all the details that so plague our consciousness from moment to moment. We give ourselves time to reflect, time to grow. And when you share a cup of tea with a friend, you are in a sense participating in communion. I knew there was something special about my morning cup of tea. …haven’t listened to this week’s episode yet? To get a better idea if what I’m talking about, take it straight from the man himself: click here to listen!