To say I enjoy tea is an understatement. I love tea with every fiber of my being. I collect teapots. I hoard loose leaf tea to drink. I even incorporated it into a drawing as part of marketing my art. The obsession is quite obvious.
I certainly don't claim to be an expert. I'm a casual drinker at best, but I do enjoy it. So when my good friend and fellow CNF member Tony came to stay with us, I was excited to add another tea drinker to my household.
Coming from the Midwest as I do, Tony's experience with tea was mostly limited to Lipton ice tea. As kid, my parents would pour over a cup of sugar into a pitcher and keep it as a staple in my household. While Tony says he didn't experience the sugar-shake that was my childhood, Lipton tea isn't exactly the same as the loose leaf I enjoy. So when offered a cup of hot tea by a friend in Texas, he was of course hesitant. But his policy of trying everything once opened him up to the world of delicious high-quality loose leafs. Soon, he began ordering from the International House of Tea where he discovered an obsession with Rooibos teas, a tea made from an earthy and mildly sweet plant typically grown in South Africa.
In the few weeks that Tony has been rooming with us (read: sleeping on our couch), we've likely made over a dozen pots of tea. To fuel his infatuation, I've been taking him to local coffee and tea shop Headrush Roasters located in Gladstone, MO. In fact, I'm there so frequently that I, along with Tony and my mom, managed to make it into a video from Fox Business about the owner, Eric Schneider, cashing in his 401k to start the coffeehouse in the middle of the 2011 recession.
Clearly, Eric made a good decision. Headrush is a huge success here in KC! And no wonder. They have some of the best coffee and tea I've ever had. I'd also give a good wager that over 90% of the loose leaf tea I own comes from there.
Taking Tony on our trips to Headrush has certainly been an experience for him. Not only have we had several different flavors of their bubble tea, but he's even begun to collect loose leaf from them as well. In fact, he made his first loose leaf purchase from them today! Of course, one of the first teas he went for was a Rooibos. I actually took one whiff of a Red Vanilla Rooibos and instantly knew he'd like it. Less than a second later, he was at the counter asking for a few ounces. We ran home to make a pot and it was just as fantastic as we thought it would be.
During our escapades of making tea today, I asked Tony if he'd ever had a flowering tea. Imagine my surprise when he said no! One of the primary reasons why I purchased the Primula teapot is specifically so I could make gorgeous flowering teas. Needless to say, when I found out Tony had never had one, I insisted we make a pot right away!
Flowering (or blooming) tea is a selection of dried tea and herbs bound together in such a way that, when steeped, "blooms" into a beautiful flower. If you think making loose leaf is a special experience, you absolutely must try making a pot of flowering tea! Watching the small bundle unfurl is an awe-inspiring event.
So awe-inspiring, in fact, that we actually made two pots of it! While the "flowers" can often be steeped multiple times, I wanted Tony to taste a couple flavors that I had. Clearly, if we had two pots of it, it was a hit! I'm sure I'll see Tony adding flowering teas to his collection soon.
As a pagan, rituals are important to me. In fact, everyone has their daily rituals, pagan or not. Drinking tea has certainly become a social custom of mine. But picture the possibilities one could explore by taking tea into spiritual practice! What could be more magickal than soaking a selection of herbs chosen by their medicinal or spiritual correspondences, charging the cup with your energy and drinking it while in circle? There's something to explore. Perhaps it's something I'll include in one of my future rituals.