The Ceremony of Tea: The Path to a Calm Happier Life

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
5 min read

There are a ton of health benefits to be enjoyed from drinking green tea. But you won’t profit from them unless you develop the habit of drinking it regularly. I have been reflecting on how I got into the habit. Its been long enough now that I can trace the subtle changes in my daily performance.

Five years ago I traveled to China. I went there to teach. I spent two months teaching at a very prestigious science and engineering university. I taught Negotiations to graduate business students. The students were really impressive internationalists who all spoke multiple European languages as well as English. They all had advanced engineering degrees and work experience with well-known global firms.

I was in Chengdu, which is the capital of Szechuan province. I didn’t know anything about Chengdu but I am a long time big fan of the spicy cuisine. It turns out Chengdu is a teeming metropolis of well over 10 million people. I had lots of free time to explore and found the city and surroundings incredible.

It was a truly eye opening and revelatory experience. I loved it.

Chengdu is home to the Panda preserve

While there I started drinking tea regularly. I have been a coffee drinker since college and espresso drinks and coffee culture has progressed in the U.S. I kept pace drinking more of it more frequently. In China tea is the beverage of choice so I adopted the practice.

For the past five years tea is my go-to motion potion. I drink green tea. It is a mellower buzz than coffee. Drinking tea is soothing. It is also really effective.

I used to think that I needed my coffee to get going in the morning. Now coffee can feel like too violent of a jolt first thing in the day. And I find that by mid afternoon when I am relying on coffee, I tend to bonk. Bonking is a term that endurance athletes use for when they over reach early in a race and end up feeling depleted of energy before the finish line.

Drinking green tea through the day I don’t feel like I’m so drastically modulating up and down as I do with coffee. It gives me more of a constant mild focused edge. I don’t feel like my energy meter is being constantly slammed into the red zone. I don’t fatigue. I don’t bonk. I also don’t get the coffee jitters and jaw clench that make it feel like a speed habit.

I feel more thoughtful and meditative instead of strapped into the rocket chair feeling 5Gs of acceleration that coffee makes me experience. I work better for a more sustained time.

I have stopped drinking alcohol more than ten years ago so I don’t need the coffee jolt in the morning to get going and blast out the cobwebs. Sometimes I’ll have a drink but nowadays I cherish the clarity more than the buzz and I usually end up forgoing the pop.

I usually will have a cup of coffee after lunch and it actually has more of the effect I am looking for because I haven’t been pegging the meter all morning. Green tea provides me with energy dynamic range that I can access with coffee when I want it.

It has worked for me. I encourage you to give it a try if any of this sounds interesting.

Here’s How I Do It

After lots of experimenting and dialing it in, here’s how I do it.

Green tea

I use loose green tea that I buy at various markets. I don’t have a specific blend that I prefer. They are all good. I buy it in bulk. I use a scoop of two in a big French Press that I use specifically for my tea so it doesn’t get cross tastes of coffee.

I use an electric kettle to quickly boil water. I use a filter jug filled with tap water.

I will pour water over the same tea all day long. I usually end up drinking 4 to six pots each day. My French Press is about a liter or so. This keeps my well hydrated during the day.

The first pour of the day, I pour a bit of hot water into the tea and then swish it around and use a little wire filter to pour out the water and catch the tea. They do this in China to wash the leaves and open up the flavor.

I add other things to the tea that I think have beneficial qualities and add complexity and interest to the flavor.

Licorice Root

I get chopped licorice root in bulk. Most stores like Sprouts and Whole Foods sell it in bulk in their herb section. Or get it from your local herb store. In the evening I sometimes make a tea of just the licorice root in a mug. I just put in a big pinch of the chopped root and pour in water. It settles to the bottom after a couple of minutes and is a soothing drink.

Ginger Root

I buy ginger root and wash it and put in some slices.

Turmeric Root

I get the whole turmeric roots and slice it like the ginger.

Ginseng Root

I buy whole ginseng roots at the local herb store. I look for ones that have two legs. Ginseng with anthropomorphic features is prized in Asia. Ginseng root can be hard and dried and difficult to cut so I put it in the microwave for like twenty seconds and that softens it up so I can cut it into small pieces. I keep the pieces in a jar and put in one every day.

Ginseng root with anthropomorphic features is prized in Asia.

That is my routine. Leave me comments. I’m curious to know if you have similar experiences and any tips or other ingredients are cool.


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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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