The Ritual of Tea

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

Henry James

United States

In the South, we have a strong tradition of serving cold iced tea. The Southern way of having sweet iced tea on the porch when friends visit is still enjoyed today. It is what I knew growing up. However, we had unsweet tea at my house as my mother was always dieting. This helped me to embrace the tannic flavor of naked and cold black tea. Brewing in a huge pitcher outside in the sun, or steeping in boiling water, iced tea is refreshing with lemon, sugar, or on its own.

“But indeed I would rather have nothing but tea.”

-Jane Austen


Anna the Seventh Duchess of Bedford created the first afternoon tea ceremony to help with her food cravings as dinnertimes were held at later hours. She created the first English tea ceremony. This ritual turned into a celebrated time of day, including the finest teapots and china cups. Common delicacies included are cookies, biscuits, and finger sandwiches. Earl Grey tea was made popular in England, however, it originated in China, like many scented teas. It is rumored that Earl Grey came about when a shipment of black tea and bergamot oranges were shipped together. The items co-mingled in the package long enough to flavor the tea in the delicious scent we have come to know so well.

“Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things.”

-Chaim Potok


Tea in Morocco brings with it a lovely tradition involving three cups of tea. Love, life, and death combine when you drink from each cup. This ritual is unique and lovely in that it sets an intention. They represent the abundance and flow of these forces in our lives. Tuerag is a sweetened mint tea that is offered after each meal to aid in digestion.

“Tea is the magic key to the vault where my brain is kept.”

-Frances Hardinge


India produces 900,000 tons of tea per day. Their neighbor, Tibet, drinks savory tea all day long. Pemagul, a black tea, combines with butter, milk, and salt. This tea is invigorating and warming in the cold mountain air. What about chai tea? Chai tea is well known and popular in all areas of the world. This spicy and sweet drink combines Indian spices and herbs with milk. Masala chai is the spicier version of this delicious tea. Combining ginger with cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom is a recipe for joy!

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”

-Fyodor Dostoevsky


Japanese tea ceremonies can last one to four hours. There are formal and informal tea rituals that are a regular part of the way of life in Japan.

“Particularly among the nobility, understanding emptiness was considered the most effective means to spiritual awakening, while embracing imperfection was honored as a healthy reminder to cherish our unpolished selves, here and now, just as we are—the first step to “satori” or enlightenment.”

Japan is known for its tea houses containing Wabi-style tea rooms. They generally have low ceilings, floor mats, scrolls on the ceiling, and may contain a tea garden, called a roji.

“Who would then deny that when I am sipping tea in my tea room I am swallowing the whole universe with it and that this very moment of my lifting the bowl to my lips is eternity itself transcending time and space?”

-D.T. Suzuki


If you enjoy tea, you have China to thank for this as the originator of most of the tea in all the world. Jing Cha is a popular tea ceremony, performed at weddings. Its meaning is simply “to respectfully offer tea.” It combines a formal introduction between the bride and groom, honoring and showing respect to their families.

“If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; If you are depressed, it will cheer you; If you are excited, it will calm you.”

William Ewart Gladstone


Do Russians love tea or vodka more? Who cares, they love them both! I love a spiked Arnold Palmer with any flavor of cold tea, ginger or tea flavored vodka, and lemonade. The two go great together! Zavarka is a very strong tea served to guests in Russia. It is served in a separate teapot, reserved for guests.

“Tea does our fancy aid, Repress those vapours which the head invade, And keeps that palace of the soul serene.”

-Edmund Waller


This incredible country in South America brings us the celebrated tea, Yerba Mate. If you have yet to try this nutty tea, full of antioxidants, you have a treat coming to you! It actually grows on a bush, so some may not call it a tea. But I am not one of those people. Drink it hot in a gourd, traditional style. Or chill it and add a sweetener and lemon for a refreshing summertime drink.

“I frequently dream of having tea with the Queen.”

Hugh Grant

What are you to do if you do not have the means to travel to these gorgeous far way places? If you are living in the United States and want to experience an authentic tea ceremony, there are places you can go! Every metropolitan area does not contain a tea house so you may need to do some digging to find the cafes and coffee shops that know how to make tea. I’m not talking about heating up boxed sugary-sweet chai or putting a tea bag in a cup of boiling water. Some places know how to do tea well and I implore you to find them!

“I like tea and yoga, but I don’t do yoga.”


As a tea lover, when you find these gems, you feel like a winner. You know the place. They set a timer for the tea after the boiled water is added. Only when the timer goes off do they steam the milk. They remove the delicate tea leaves and add the perfect combination of frothy milk to your mug. They have more than one choice of milk. They have loose-leaf teas. They make tea blends. They serve a variety of flavored syrups. This is the place to enjoy your tea.

Seattle, WA

If you find yourself in Seattle, visit the Seattle Tea Garden for a truly authentic experience. This place is one of the most highly rated Japanese-style gardens in all of North America. Visit this three and a half acre property and enjoy strolling down winding paths, viewing the forest, waterfalls, lakes, and mountains in this varied landscape.

Our Shoseian Tea house offers an unparalleled opportunity to experience a 40-minute tea presentation in a traditional roji garden setting.

Dobra Tea House

Dobra Tea House is an international chain of Bohemian style tea rooms. I have had the pleasure of experiencing the two Asheville locations several times each year for many years, on my travels. Sitting on cushions with low and round tables in dim lighting, you ring the bell for service. The tea menu is a book with more flavors of tea and tea preparations than I have ever seen. Trays arrive with individual teapots, cups, and saucers with whichever delicious homemade treat you chose to enjoy with your tea.

Dobra Tea House – Downtown Asheville, NC

I want to challenge you to experiment with making tea at home. When you have the opportunity to visit tea houses, you will be inspired. You will find blends you enjoy as well as ways of preparing delicious tea. Experiment with cold and hot blends, as well as naked tea or tea with milk. Try different milks: almond, coconut, oat, and hemp. Use flavored syrups, honey, agave, or raw cane sugar. Purchase Know Your Gut, Trust Your Gut from You, Me, and Uni and try it in several different ways. Add it to green tea for a small caffeine boost which also adds antioxidants. Order Meditative State of Mind tea and prepare it cold and mix with flavored sparkling water and a slice of citrus. Add lavender syrup and almond milk for a caffeine-free hot tea latte in the evening. Try a variety of Meditative State of Mind tea recipes.

You really can have your tea and drink it too!

Anastacia Elizabeth Walden

Anastacia Elizabeth Walden Freelance writer and editor at

Gainesville, Florida Facebook


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