I'm not a big tea drinker. But if I was, I think I could get quite addicted to the ritual of making, drinking, sharing. Not necessarily in the formal Japanese Tea Ceremony way, but certainly, being a potter, finding interest in the ware and its' usage.
It makes me happy to use a mug or a teapot someone has made for me to enjoy. There is so much to learn about the maker in something as simple as the lip, how the foot is trimmed, the exposed clay, the glaze choice, the serendipitous activity in the kiln, and what the maker deems successful, or not. Sometimes, one's least favorite tea bowl is the one your best friend always reaches for. Or the mug I keep pushing to the back of the cabinet is the one my daughter searches for when she is home. She might say, "I love this milk glaze." But when I look, I don't know what she means--it doesn't look like milk, and I've never used a glaze called "milk" glaze. These things become highly personal expressions of choice and aesthetics, yet we rarely stop to consider why or how.
And what is it about tea that seems so comforting? In Winter months, we like to hold our warm mugs hugged close into the heart space, as if to heat body and soul. Or on a sweltering day, just the sound of ice cubes in the glass of tea makes us think of coolness. The fragrance is fresh and open, the color tinted like sunglasses.
There's the sense of stopping, pausing, focusing on the first taste, and the after taste, and then being still. Or of exchanging confidences, ideas, dreams. For me, tea is a transitional event, and serves to open the space somehow. Even the muscles in the face change while drinking tea. It's pretty amazing.
Coffee is different. Coffee is action, even decaf is action! Coffee is direct. Coffee is a big sloppy dog, while tea is the cat who only opens one eye, and then shuts it sloooowly....
And I know Chai is tea, but it feels entirely different than tea or coffee. It feels like sustenance. Like something I can bite into. A Chai Latte is one of the most underrated pleasures known to humankind!
Here is an AWESOME site to visit, called Teance. It is run by Winnie, and her shop is in Berkeley, CA. Oftentimes she is off tracking down the best tea in the world, and she blogs when she is away. So check out her blog as well!