Thursday, April 8, 2010

A cup of happiness

The latest Sunday Life magazine published in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age contained an article called '15 simple steps to happiness'. The quote in the breakout box reads: "Really notice what you are seeing, smelling, hearing, so you can appreciate where you are right now and be happier in the present". These words of wisdom are from mediatation teacher Limor Babai. Sounds simple, right? For many of us, nothing could be harder as we plan the hours, days, weeks and years ahead. If we are not thinking about the million things we need to do when we leave work for the day, it's the zillion things we need to buy, do or create to finish a project, improve our life or feel satisfied before we die.

Last year my delightful KT recommended a valuable book called 'The Happiness Trap' by Russ Harris. It delves into mindfulness and living in the present, but simply reading the book once won't transform you. It takes practise. Maybe a re-read is in order on my part. And practise, a lot more practise.

For now I rely on tea! Yes, that ancient tradition of brewing dried leaves and water. A nice cuppa at the end of the day, a little alone time to inhale the day's flavour of choice and simply be. As a little encouragement, I hunt for lovely herbal teas to sweeten the ritual. There is no need to look any further than T2. Their styling is divine and makes the simple act of making tea into an art. After opening in Melbourne ten years ago, T2 now has stores in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth as well as seven stores in Victoria. Cafes and restaurants all over use and sell their products plus you can now order online, but for visual stimulation and taste testing sensations, nothing beats their stores.
T2 at Highpoint Shopping Centre

Tea is big in my family. Plain tea with milk, usually one or two sugars. I have often wondered if we went straight from the breast to a cup of tea. Maybe a weak, milky one until our taste buds developed. Coffee was a big no-no growing up in our household but it was tea all round, all the time. My husband doesn't like tea and this used to make me sad as he missed out on the family's cuppa rituals (somehow hot chocolate doesn't slip naturally into the cup line-up). I once whined "why can't you just learn to like it so you can really be a part of the family?" to which he replied without a moment's hesitation "because then I'd be like the rest of you, stopping for tea every half an hour and I'd never get anything done". Mmm, point taken.

My brother once got my parents a kettle with a 'warm' function to save them waiting for the kettle every time they wanted tea, which was seemingly most of the time. It seemed like a genious gift but we soon realised that mum is too much of a greenie to use it. In fact, she has been known to fill a thermos to leave on the kitchen bench to have hot water on hand all day without turning on an electric kettle!

Making tea can be habitual, like it is with my English nana who makes a cup and hardly drinks it sometimes. It can be an indicator to stop work for a few minutes, like smoko time in a factory. It can be a welcoming gesture to guests in your home, like when you instantly turn the kettle on when a friend turns up on your doorstep. It can be a conversation filler, like it was for us growing up when adults visited while our parents were out. Asking how someone takes their tea or coffee and then preparing it gives you something to do and say until you get rescued!

Tea can be many things and when and how to make it are quite personal. China cup, mug or pot? With food or without? Before breakfast or after?

Teapot wall display at Country Road in Australia on Collins. 

Have you ever noticed that you know who is in a room without looking at them? I love how we somehow identify our loved ones by the sound of their movements. As a teenager, I would lie in bed and know who was up first. My dad was a giveaway with his vigourous tea-stirring. He almost whisked it with the teaspoon creating a ringing noise against the mug.

Happiness is the little things. Be happy. Drink tea.

Top photo of the teapot and cups (in delightful yellow, no less) taken of a store window in Central West Plaza, Braybook.

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