Teasmade: A Love Story
On Ritual and Centering Ourselves
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I often use the phrase "take up space in your own life" when I talk with people about my approach to building out my writing rituals and life in general (if you're one of my writing clients, you're probably sick of hearing it!)
But I've been thinking about how this dictate requires flexibility: The ways I created space for myself years ago are great building blocks for my writing practice now, but my routines and rituals need to shift to reflect my changing life and the various ways I and my writing practice have grown.
I'm always trying new things to support my writing practice and to stay connected to the fun, light parts of it (a current favorite is using different essential oils for different parts of the writing process: When I do generative work, when I move to editing, and when I shift to admin/other tasks).
But I've recently redone my early morning routine, too, and the results have been transformative.
I feel very strongly that our lives are enriched when we attend to ourselves first: That I can show up for anything else I care about because I first treat myself with unconditional love and the priority I deserve. Like most people, I also have trouble putting that into action, and find myself easily derailed even within moments of getting up.
Waking up in the morning, I immediately feel the pull to do things: To check texts or social media, to check email, to start the day with cleaning or administrative tasks rather than anything I care to do. The instant our eyes snap open, we're faced with the pressure to produce and perform, to do rather than be.
I'm not unique in noticing this problem, nor in noticing it in myself, but I did find a possible solution at the intersection of two of my many worlds.
In 2019, my book Afternoon Tea: A History burst forth in the world. While by no means a bestseller, I enjoyed writing it and the process introduced me to a device I coveted for years after: The Teasmade.
A Teasmade is basically an alarm clock with a built in tea maker: When your alarm goes off, it starts to boil water and pours it into the awaiting pot that you have dutifully filled with your preferred loose or bagged tea (you can also flick a switch for tea on demand without the blaring alarm noise, which is my personal preference).
I learned about it as I wrote more fully about tea consumption as ritual: afternoon tea, for example, being a time to sit and focus on tea and a snack, not a time to drink tea in front of your computer or at your desk.
Tea as a ritual is a vastly different experience than tea drinking as rote, and is as much an act of mindfulness as it is appreciating a cup of tea. I loved the idea of tea in bed, a thought so utterly luxurious I couldn't fathom ever experiencing it.
For years, I pined for a Teasmade, and to be honest I'm not sure why it took me so long to buy one. But buy one I did, and started using it before the holidays this year.
What I found was that my Teasmade was transformative in ways I hadn't anticipated. Hot tea in bed also pushes me towards other morning activities that feel luxurious: I love to journal in the mornings, but now I find myself also reading books that center rest, reflection, or that nudge me to daydream: Something that counters the grind culture we're all so accustomed to. Currently, I'm moving between Rest is Resistance, Rooted, Anam Cara, Missing Witches, and An Irish Atlantic Rainforest.
I like coffee in the mornings, too, so I tend to stick with herbal teas, a current favorite being toasted dandelion root.
Starting off my day imagining and living a slower, more restful pace helps me show up better for my writing, and that tea is a central component helps ground me in my love of and appreciation for food and drink. It helps me feel celebratory and excited about what food does for us, and how we connect with it.
As a food writer, I find that it can be easy to fall into the trap of food consumption as transactional: Or rather, food being consumed with an eye towards saying something important about it or its context later on. The experience of having tea in bed is anything but: Sure, I'm writing about it generally here, but the day to day is all about focus and appreciation.
I strongly believe that self care blindly tied to consumption, capitalism, and the purchase of specific products to "fix" perceived problems creates little functional change and ultimately traps us in an expensive, frustrating cycle.
But I also understand that the things with which we fill our lives ultimately play a role in shaping them, in this case by asking for pause and re-evaluation of my morning routine. I purchased a Teasmade to have a nice alarm clock and tea in bed: I ended up with a beautiful new morning routine because I considered the various affordances mindful morning down time would offer me.
P.S. I wonder what other ways we can all build rest into our early mornings:
If you don't have a Teasmade, perhaps an electric kettle with a mug at the ready will work. Or if you hate tea, maybe finding a way to bring some other ritual into your first-thing-in-the-morning moments (I like using a jade roller on my face, for example). My focus for 2023 is self-love and centering myself, and I hope for all of us a similar thing.
· I was thrilled to be featured in the Washington Post's new year's cooking resolutions. If you're also wanting to add fermentation to your repertoire in 2023, make sure to check out Our Fermented Lives!
· I also did a fun interview with my friends at Savor: You can check it out here!
· And finally, make sure to get your tickets for my classes in Europe next month, and check out what other fun events I have in store for the year. See the updated list, with ticket links, here!
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