Everything stops for tea?

glass teapot and Fornum and Mason tea caddyFast food, fast lane, superfast broadband….it seems the goal of every service provider is to make our lives quicker.

The trouble with ‘fast’ is that it so often also means unconscious. The faster they hurry us, the less we notice. I suspect we’ve all had the unnerving experience of hurtling along the motorway and suddenly realising we have literally no idea where on the route we are: we’ve been on a kind of automatic pilot.

One of my goals in living my best year is to experience the ‘breadth’ of life as well as its length: extracting pleasure, awareness, gratitude, for the myriad everyday moments that bring pleasure – if I’m mindful of them. There’s even a poster to this effect on my wall:  ‘Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things’ (thanks Kurt Vonnegut).

Making time for the moments

Yesterday afternoon I found myself boiling the kettle and reaching for a teabag without paying much attention to what I was doing. Until I spotted a clear glass teapot standing alongside a beautiful caddy of Fortnum and Mason tea leaves which my son Paul gave me last year.

So I stopped.

I picked up the tin, enjoying its smart metallic red and green decoration. I opened it and smelt the leaves, each ant-sized – rather than the usual powder they crush into teabags.

Carefully I spooned the leaves into the metal strainer that sits in the centre of the pot then poured on boiling water, enjoying watching the liquid turn a deep gold.

After I had let it steep for five minutes I splashed a little milk into a china cup and then poured in the tea.

Then I sat down to enjoy it.

The whole process took five times as long as making tea with a teabag. But it also yielded five times as much pleasure. It gave me breathing space. It gave my eyes, my nose and my tastebuds an experience.

And it slowed me down long enough to remind myself that life isn’t only lived in the high days and holidays, but actually made up of thousands of everyday little moments that we can choose to make special if we wish.