The topic for this month’s Tea Blog Carnival, sponsored by the Association of Tea Bloggers and hosted on The Sip Tip is “how do you incorporate tea into your daily life?” Aside from the obvious, which is that just like everyone else I manage to make time for the things I’m most interested in, I find that for me there’s a pretty clear divide between the more sublime and special tea-related experiences that solicit (and deserve) full attention to tea and practice, and the more mundane experiences of tea drinking, which take place in and around other activities, like working or casual conversations with other people. The question seems to me to apply more to that secondary type of tea experience, the more ordinary day-to-day incorporation of tea into life. This is where my interest in tea gets more thoroughly integrated into the non-tea things.
At the most practical level, one of the things that has had the biggest impact on making it possible for me to drink good tea while I’m engaged in other activities was purchasing my own electrical kettle for the desk in my office. There is a hot water kettle in the communal kitchen, but it’s generally filled with tap water. Having my own kettle enables me to always brew my tea with spring water and also to easily adjust the water to lower temperatures when I need to. The kettle is also close at hand, so I find that I drink more tea, more often. I always have tea and good water at hand, and hopefully I don’t annoy any of my co-workers with the sound of boiling water.
Looking at it another, more amusing way, I feel a little less like I’ve incorporated tea into my daily life than I’ve been entirely unable to fend off an invasion of teaware into every space where I live and work. Looking around my office I have – as a current example – three different teapots, one gaiwan, a Korean teacup/brewer, a Russian podstakannik, a couple of Japanese lidded tea bowls and some assorted cups all within close range. Alongside those, there’s a pile of tins, cartons, bags, etc. of a variety of teas, all more or less contained within one larger bag. Describing this I am realizing that I have more tea and teaware in my office than many people – even people who are into tea – have in their homes. I’ve never been one to skirt around the perimeter of a grand preoccupation.
I do generally use my preferred and traditionally appropriate methods for brewing tea even while I’m working, and this gives me a great deal of enjoyment above and underneath the tasks that I am required to do. But I don’t do anything too involved since it would be distracting and under-appreciated in the wrong context.
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Karen Gardiner began her tea career in 2000 when she opened her first tea shop in Florida, Kindred Tea. Six years later she moved to New Mexico and past customers would reach out to her requesting to order their well-loved tea blends. This motivated her to open up an online tea shop, ArtfulTea, in 2007 so that she could continue to provide for her loyal customers and eventually newcomers. Today Karen is still sharing her passion for tea with every cup at her retail shop. When she’s not working at her tea shop, you might find her in her backyard, enjoying a form of meditation with a tea related landscape she created. At the tea table Karen discussed her daily tea rituals, her tea blending space and how she repurposed broken teacups and other fine china.