You may know tea as a hot beverage you drink before bed. You may even choose your evening tea based on how your taste buds are feeling that night. For some of us, tea is much more than just a beverage — it’s a foundational representation of life itself.
Tea has long been used in spiritual ceremonies and practices, even before we were drinking tea for the taste. Long before fancy matcha lattes, there were the small matcha tea bowls used in Japanese tea ceremonies. While spirituality means different things to each of us, tea has a historical connection to spirituality dating back millennia.
If you’d like to learn about spiritual tea, you’re in luck. Read on for a brief journey through the spirituality of tea and some ways that you can use tea to connect to your foundational energy.
The Spiritual Culture of Tea
Tea drinking as a spiritual practice began in China, where Buddhist monks would drink tea to stay awake and focused during meditations. We now know that this is due to tea’s caffeine content, which varies based on tea type.
The practice of tea drinking spread to Japan, where the Japanese tea ceremony originated in the 1600s. For the Japanese, drinking tea is not simply a physical act. Rather, it’s a way to engage in harmony with the world around you.
The Japanese attribute tea to their spiritual values of wa, kei, sei, and jaku. These values translate to harmony, respect, purity, and elegance. The tea ceremony combines gardening, tea making, flower arranging, and minimalist art to create a spiritual atmosphere that embodies these values.
Tea drinking is also an integral part of Islam. Many Muslims believe that tea promotes harmony and unity, and this religion encourages followers to drink tea regularly to foster these values.
Is Tea Spiritual?
If you prefer to see tea as a casual beverage, that’s more than okay. As we mentioned above, spirituality has different meanings for each of us. However, some people believe that all tea carries energy. This energy is called chi or qi, translating simply to “life force.”
First mentioned in ancient Chinese books such as Shennong’s Herbal and Treatise on Food, tea was said to ease the mind and benefit the vital energy that keeps us young and fresh. Meanwhile, Hua Tuo’s Treatise on Food said tea provided a clear mind. These statements date back as far as 8 AD. While this belief that tea enhanced our basic life force was based largely in tea’s many health benefits — which were more of an intuitive understanding at the time — qi does go beyond the scientifically verifiable.
When we become one with our tea, it can become a meditative tool, a warming energy, or any experience that reveals itself to you. This is different for everyone who experiences it, and it can be traced to the tea as equally as it can connect to the action of drinking itself.
Ultimately, this life force becomes a “you’ll know it when you see it” feeling with whichever meaning you choose to impart to it.
Part of embracing qi can involve living in harmony with the world around you. This involves connecting with others, fostering peace and tolerance with those around you, and connecting with the earth.
Our existence is contingent upon the Earth, and we give back by cultivating the earth and healing its wounds. Many indigenous and cultural rituals focus on honoring the earth’s sacrifice because the Earth gives us its supplies freely.
The practice of making tea involves soaking leaves in hot water until their essence is infused into the water. When we drink tea, some believe we are taking in part of the Earth’s sacrifice. Taoist tea culture, for example, believes tea is a part of the unity between humans and nature. Many choose to drink their tea in nature, and many believe that brewing tea can help release them from the constraints of the ego.
Drinking tea is an excellent way to strengthen your spiritual connection with the Earth, if that’s what you would like. Next time you drink tea, try closing your eyes and focusing on the flavors and the quality of the Earth that you are drinking, and express your gratitude towards the earth for its sacrifice.
If you want to get back to the basics and reconnect with the earth, check out some of Asili Herbs & Botanica’s teas. These teas are made with raw ingredients and formulated to help stabilize your spiritual self.
Focus Your Mind
Tea has a long history of enhancing meditation practices. While tea is a spiritual drink, its meditative properties actually have a lot to do with its chemical content.
Green tea is wonderful for meditation because its caffeine levels are high enough to keep you awake and energized, but low enough to avoid caffeine jitters. Plus, caffeine in tea is absorbed more slowly by our bodies than the caffeine in coffee for a more gradual boost without those jitters or a crash. Part of this comes from an amino acid called L-theanine, which actually can help promote relaxation and focus.
The act of drinking tea can help redirect your focus and help you still your mind. If you’re interested in meditating with tea, there are a few ways you can start.
You can perform a focusing meditation, in which you examine every flavor and feeling of your tea. You’ll start by noticing the world around you and connecting your breath with your movements. As you pour your tea, notice its color and appearance as it fills your cup.
As you lift your cup to your mouth, notice the weight. When you drink your tea, let the flavor sink into your tastebuds and feel the heat as it travels through your body. Pay attention to the sights and sounds of the world around you. Once you’re done with your tea, you can be done with your meditation,
You can also try a manifesting meditation, where you calmly sip tea as you envision your wishes and silently manifest them into existence.
These meditation techniques are simply suggestions — it’s most important to find a meditation style that works for you. Overall, qi emphasizes feeling all of tea’s tactile sensations, and meditating with your tea can help the qi reveal itself to you.
Relax Your Soul
Some tea is shown to promote mental well-being and emotional balance. If you’re stressed, upset, or just having a bad day, try a cup of tea to bring yourself back into balance.
A soothing cup of tea like chamomile or lavender can help realign your soul and calm uneasy nerves. You can also try jasmine or rooibos to slowly settle your emotions.
We recommend combining these relaxing teas with a deep breathing meditation to truly set yourself at ease. You can walk yourself through some deep breathing by breathing in for a count of four, holding for a count of four, and releasing for a count of six. Repeat until you feel calm.
You can also go through a guided breathing meditation designed for your specific needs. There are many kinds of deep breathing exercises that can help you target emotional needs. Combine these with a soothing cuppa as a way to restore balance at the end of each day.
If you don’t know where to start, check out our Self Care Tea Box. This box comes with everything you need to start your own relaxing tea ritual, including some grounding, energizing, heart-healing, and sleep illustrated cards.
Tea is a deeply spiritual drink with strong ties to many religious practices. From balancing your chakras to focusing your mind, it’s easy to see why tea is a spiritual experience to so many. Next time you take a sip of tea, close your eyes and enjoy the spiritual experience – you never know what you may find.
About Sips by: We’re a female-founded and led startup that makes discovering tea fun, personalized, and affordable. The Sips by Box is the only multi-brand, personalized tea subscription box. Each month, we match tea drinkers across the U.S. with delicious teas from over 150 global tea brands that we’re sure they’ll love. Based out of Austin, Texas, we are adept at savoring a hot mug even when it’s seasonally inappropriate.