80:8 Photography : Video : Sound : Bands : Portraits

The Ritual of Tea

In an earlier post I mentioned that we received a wonderful gift of tea from one of our customers, Donald, a few weeks back. Tea? I hear you say? What’s so special about Twinings or PG Tips? Well, it was something a little different to that. Not only was there flowering tea, but also exquisitely packaged circular tablets of compressed black tea that seem impossibly exotic and evocative of a faraway and and still to me, mysterious culture. I love the labeling, the use of Chinese characters and the realness of the paper used. The whole act of unwrapping them and popping them into a special little device that Donald also sent us, is an utter delight. I can see how the very ritual of tea can become so compelling. Soon I’ll be banging a little gong in the morning, to signify the first cup of the day is now ready.

What is it about ritual that is so compelling? Is it the feeling of a special kind of familiarity? Whether it’s the gothic ritual of Gormenghast, the pomp of Royalty or as here, the subtle pleasure of scented steam from a little bowl of black tea, it’s a very real pleasure . I think the distinction has to be made between ritual and that which is simply repetitive. Perhaps ritual has a certain kind of rarity about it? If that’s the case I will limit myself to one Chinese tea a week and stick to teabags and instant coffee at all other times.

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