The Karma of Tea

  • Consider the humble cup of tea: fragrant, warm, comforting. We associate tea with relaxation, with the lovely ritual of English afternoon tea, with the wisdom of Asia, with the mystery of India. It’s one of the easiest beverages to prepare: for most Americans, all we have to do is plop a teabag in a cup of hot water, and voila! Instant gratification.


    Compare this with coffee. What do we associate with coffee? Briskness, waking up, staying alert, staying sharp. We drink it black, with cream and/or sugar, and in a dizzying variety of specialty flavors and roasts. Having a cup of coffee at your elbow at home or at work is commonplace.


    So, take a moment and look at what you’re doing and thinking right now. Are you coffee? Or are you tea? Are you focused, alert, busy, perhaps stressed? Or are you calm, relaxed, peaceful?


    Clearly both states exist in everyone at different times and for different reasons. I wouldn’t recommend the “tea” state to you while you’re carpooling your kid’s soccer team, nor would it be productive to be in the “coffee” state when you’re rocking your newborn baby to sleep. Part of being a healthy human is figuring out which state is appropriate, and, more importantly, which one will make you a healthier person in whatever situation you find yourself.


    I confess to being a tea person most of the time. I’m usually calm; I’m the one coffee people come to with their issues. But there are times, most notably when I’m in front of the media, when my coffee side kicks in. It’s all about being self-aware. Too much zen can lead to inaction; too much stress can kill you.


    It should be noted here that it isn’t a simple matter of caffeine. Tea actually has more than coffee. It’s about the associations we make, the harmonies and the battles we choose.


    Tea or coffee? There’s no right answer.


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