Put the kettle on. ☕
Possibly the most comforting four words in the English language for me, though I’m also fairly fond of “d’you want a hug?” and “here’s some free money.” It’s a total stereotype – the British love tea, and they use it in mostly the same context as non-Brits might use a nap or a psychiatrist – but for me, at least, it’s true.
I’ve tried to dissect my love for the brown stuff. It’s leaves, milk and water (and sugar, don’t judge me), made in this bizarrely specific way (Yorkshire Tea bag, freshly boiled water, wait two minutes, remove bag without agitating, add two-three teaspoons of semi-skimmed milk until the tea is the colour of He-Man). What’s to love about it?
Maybe it’s the ritual of it. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy focuses largely on soothing, mundane techniques to make your brain realise there’s no threat. Engaging in the tea ritual, as brief as it may be, keeps your frazzled, anxious brain focused on a task for just long enough to give it the cranial equivalent of a gentle stroke. Shhh, brain. It’s okay. Have some leaf water.
Then, there’s the anticipation. This only really works if you actually like tea, but if you don’t, you just haven’t had ENOUGH. It’s exciting to treat yourself to something, whether that’s a new outfit, a little break or a hot drink. Doesn’t hot chocolate and a bath feel like a personal kindness? Well, tea is like that, except smaller, and you can’t climb into it.
I also just ADORE the community feel around tea. Making tea for someone, having tea made for you – it’s this sweet little bonding experience, a nice gesture of affection. I’m roughly 250% more likely to fall in love with someone if they offer to make me tea, even just the once. Even if it’s not very good. If I’m feeling particularly hormonal, I might get teary-eyed.
OHHHHHH I just made a good cup of tea. Hang on. Let me savour this.
✨ MMMMMMM. ✨
Right, back to the thing. My friend Joel Snape recently wrote about how you’re doing tea wrong. I scoffed at first – please, I am the QUEEN of tea, the EMPRESS of milky leaves – but then I read it, and he was totally right.
The crux of his argument is this: if you make tea to treat yourself, and the process only takes a handful of minutes, why rush it? You’ll end up with sub-par tea that just makes you more sad.
And that’s something that sort of applies to everything you do, really. If you’re going to go to the effort of doing something, do it whole-heartedly or don’t do it at all. The worst that can happen? It doesn’t turn out right. You put too much milk in; you don’t get the job you went for. But the best that can happen is THE BEST THAT CAN HAPPEN, and if you put that extra time and effort in, then you’re more likely to be drinking the most perfect cup of tea you’ve ever had. On a balcony in Spain. Surrounded by puppies. Or something like that. No promises.
So why do I like tea? I like the taste, obviously; I like the tiny bit of headspace it gives me; I like sharing the experience with other people. But, under all of that, is the feeling of control. If I can get this right – this tiny little ritual – I can do the thing.
✨ I CAN DO THE THING. ✨