The health benefits of drinking tea are well documented, but perhaps the most healthful aspect of afternoon tea time is the chance to connect in a meaningful way with others.
We have 18th Century Duchess Anna Maria of Bedford (of Bedfordshire, England) to thank for tea time. The Duchess was known to enjoy a late afternoon respite with a cup of tea and bread.
This soon turned into a daily ritual, one that she invited friends to join in on. Soon gatherings for tea extended outside of the home with women enjoying time together in tea salons to gossip and discuss the latest fashions.
Tea Time Promotes Social Connection
As we get older, it’s important to stay engaged and socially active. Volunteering, becoming a mentor and regularly meeting with friends to exercise, or to simply share stories and insights, can have incredible benefits to our health, longevity and well-being. Studies also show that social connection can reduce feelings of loneliness, and that older adults with a large social network tend to be in good health, particularly if interaction with others is frequent.
Consider Okinawa, Japan. Okinawa is home to the most centenarians in the world, those 99 and older. Many Okinawans belong to a moai, which means “meeting for a common purpose” in Japanese. A moaj consists of a circle of five friends who are committed to each other for life. They meet almost daily, often over a cup of tea, to support one another mentally, physically and spiritually. Coming together for tea is their chance to slow down and connect with each other.
Tea Time Promotes Mindfulness
The act of brewing and sipping tea can be an important tool for cultivating mindfulness. Keep these tea-making tips in mind the next time you’re hosting afternoon tea for friends:
1. Watch a blooming tea open in a clear pot.
It’s a great reminder to stop and smell the roses.
2. Whisk a cup of matcha for a minute or two.
It can reset your focus to the present moment.
3. Savor the flavor of tea with every sip.
It helps you to slow down and appreciate the tea.
4. Take note of the warm sensation of the tea cup in your hands.
It brings you more in tune with your body.
Making time to connect with friends or family may feel like a luxury, yet nurturing connections and finding ways to be mindful may be one of the most critical steps you take to living a long, healthy and happy life.