Tea 12 Times A Day – A Healing Ritual

In the past 18 months, my boyfriend -who is from New Zealand- has had two sets of family members visit. The first time, I was thrown by a number of familial, cultural, and language differences. For example, when his dear sister asked my 8-year-old son at his relatively early bedtime if he’d had his tea, I was perplexed: What? She gives young children caffeine, and in the evening, no less? My boyfriend quickly translated for me: she was asking my son if he’d had supper. Oh!

But sometimes when my boyfriend’s family says “tea”, they mean the hot liquid drink. And they say it many times each day. Again, I was bewildered when every couple of hours my boyfriend’s sister would propose we stop whatever we were doing and have tea. Even though my own mother is British, this habit was new to me. I didn’t really know how to stop what I was doing. I function on momentum, and at the time I was working ridiculously hard revamping the GAPS Guide book. But stop I did.

And I found I loved it!

This simple ritual offered so much. It wasn’t about the caffeine -because it didn’t necessarily involve that; herbal (including from the mint plant in our own garden that spring) was just as fine.

My boyfriend and his family are incredibly hard working people. He and his family value momentum, they value productivity, they value getting things done. And they also value connecting. So several times a day they all stop what they are doing and put on the kettle. When we were all together, each tea time would last at least half an hour. We’d sip, chat, laugh, explore new plans, rest. And then we’d pick up where we left off and resume our activities.

When my boyfriend’s mother visited with her partner more recently, again the tea. Again the lovely rests and connections, again the ebbs so critical to ensuring flow.

Since then, I have been aiming to incorporate this ritual -these little rests, these little moments of tranquility, of centering, of grounding, of connecting- into my life. It’s easier to practice when my beloved Kiwi is hanging out at my place, but I’ve been doing it more and more when he’s not, too, because even alone or with my son the ritual truly feeds my soul.

It reminds me very much of when, on GAPS’ early Intro, we would stop every hour or so to sip broth, at the very least, and usually enjoy a small or large amount of fatty protein, too. A deeply healing practice, to be sure. And the visits from my beloved’s family remind me that this healthy habit can extend long beyond the days of early Intro.

Today, take a moment -or twelve- to rest, or to connect with yourself, with a loved one, with a page of visual art or poetry, or with nature. Let all that hard work you’ve been doing with research, learning curves, and cooking sink in. Breathe. Remember your intrinsic goodness that is the case regardless of your state of health, and enjoy the healing that comes through elements such as friendship, art, and nature. If it takes pouring a cup of tea to remind you to do so…please…put the kettle on now.


p.s. The title of this post references a quirky British show I find hilarious. In an early episode of Spaced, the characters have tea time and again within a short period until, at one point, when the roommate is offered one more round, he deadpans, “No, thanks – twelve cups is my limit.”

6 Replies to “Tea 12 Times A Day – A Healing Ritual”

  1. Thanks for another gem in your blog, Baden. I also have some some folks in my life for whom “tea” means a snack break. I like that working definition.
    Taking the time to rest, to catch up, some days seems impossible. Yet, just today, my son and I cancelled an afternoon play date because a day and a half of being out of the house and super busy left us with a deficit of rest. I appreciate that reading your thoughts here helped me put it in perspective.

  2. Lovely. Yes, taking time for tea, and all it implies, is a healing action on many levels. Dr. Tierona Low Dog, a really wonderful healer (from a native American healing family, trained as a midwife and doctor) said to encourage new mothers to take any medicine needed as tea (we were discussing milk supply enhancers) because it is more effective medicine, healing the whole person. It makes us sit down and take a rest. And Dr. George Wootan, another gifted healer/teacher, said “there is (almost) always time for a cup of tea” in an emergency situation…because not taking that time to regroup can actually cause us to miss important things or make mistakes in haste. I think I need to go make some tea!

  3. I’m so glad to be catching up on your blog after a busy summer, Baden. This is another great post, and I wish our family had the habit of tea-time. I know I can instigate it, but how wonderful it would be if it was part of our culture, rather than one more thing I ask my 17yr old daughter and workaholic partner to start doing with me because it’ll be good for them/us. Maybe reading about it just empahsizes for me the feeling of disconnect I have in the face of three busy people living in a small house where the options for personal space ususally involve separate rooms. Think I’ll spend some time feeling this one out, today. So glad you’re here, Baden, and everyone who shares with you and posts. Loved reading about Caryl the other day, and have got a hold on the hoarding book at the local library.

  4. I love this….”the lovely rests and connections, again the ebbs so critical to ensuring flow.” I love the water metaphor of ebb and flow. And the understanding that we can’t be in a “flow” (productive) state all the time. The ebbs insure that we have energy to flow as well.

    I’ve recently recognized that the only time I breathe deeply is when I’m exercising. So I’ve been incorporating tiny breathing breaks into my day…. pausing for a minute or two while connecting a breath-stretch-appreciate. Breathe in and do an expansion movement while setting my intention to feel gratitude. Breathe out with a little bow and another attention on the present and aligning body-heart and mind. Maybe doing that 2 or 3 times.

    This seems similar to what your teas are about minus the connecting with other people. I’ve been thinking of inviting a neighbor and her two little girls over for tea….now I think I’ll do it.
    Thanks Baden!

  5. What a gorgeous conversation, everyone! Thanks so much for joining me, Seanain, Justine, Annie, and Gel! (I get at least as much back out of your thoughtful ponderings as I do in the original action of writing!)

    Also, I loved hearing the proposals of Dr. Low Dog and Dr. Wootan, that the place of tea (with its varying meanings) is even more important and valuable than I had even been considering.


  6. I should note that Dr. Wootan probably meant his recommendation figuratively, meaning that he used “time for a cup of tea” literally as time for a break. In his book Take Charge of Your Child’s Health (out of print but well worth finding), he illustrated this point with a very sad story of someone who didn’t take that time, with wrenching consequences. It’s this balance of rest that informs activity that is so very important. I learned TM this year, after my father’s death, and that has provided me that twice-daily retreat that my body and being had been craving.

    Yay for all of the tools we have to keep us sane and thriving! And thank you Baden for providing the forum, the place for us to gather and support each other!

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