tea time tales


As soon as the light of the sun streamed into my bedroom this morning I was up. It did not matter that I had only fallen asleep 4 hours earlier and didn’t have any responsibilities for another 4 hours. I tried lying back down and hoping sleep would come to me, wishing for just one more REM cycle, but my body felt energized by its 4 hour sleep cycle. After 15 minutes with my eye mask on trying to shut off any sign of external light and still feeling ready to begin my day I chose not to waste an energetic morning. I am not a morning person, energetic mornings do not come easily to me. My baseline looks more like dragging myself out of bed at the very last minute, using the threat of running late for my first appointment of the day as the extrinsic motivated I need to get my day started. ADHD for the win. So days like today feel like little miracles.

Which is why after a bit of deliberation I gave in and energetically jumped out of bed. Trimmed the darkened wick from the candles I’m loving these days and lit them. Opened my windows to bring in some of that early morning breeze into my bedroom. Put on the torquoise robe I had laying out beside my bed and went to start my morning with a cup of tea. A morning ritual I almost always treat myself to. When I got to the kitchen I turned on the electric kettle by default. And then I hesitated. I immediately felt the need to make my own tea blend. This is usually a task reserved for the highest of energy days. Someone shared in a neurodivergent support group I’m a part of that they broke their chores into low energy day chores and high energy chores. I loved this idea so much and adopted it. One of the best lessons I’ve adopted in my journey to understand myself as a neurodivergent person has included accepting that my capacity ebbs and flows every day and not holding my most productive day as a standard of what a good day is. Making herbal tea from scratch is one of those activities that signals a heightened measure of productive energy at my disposal. Since my energy is something that needs to be monitored and managed to ensure I’m not left depleted right before an important task I keep away from activities that are unnecessarily cumbersome on days that will require quite a bit of professional exertion. Activities like making tea from scratch. I took up a more serious study of herbalism in the years the world went dark and now after a couple of years of study I feel competent enough to mix different kinds of potent and calming plants into a herbal infusion for a homemade tea blend. I quite enjoy it. However for those who are not familiar with herbalism, it requires creativity, the mental work of remembering, and an alert spiritual radar to know what plants you feel most drawn to. I was surprised by my willingness to do all of that on a week day morning before I had to go into work for meetings and have a brain heavy day. And yet I had already learnt from earlier in the morning that my body was up for all the adventures today and it was pointless to try to reason with the things pulling me. I gave in. Turned off the electric kettle. And put a pot on a stove to boil and infuse my herbs. Witchy portion style.

I walked over to my plant corner, paused for a bit and let my body signal what herbs it wanted to work with today. I waited until I intuitively felt drawn to try out some lavender, linden, lemon balm, and a dash of marshmallow root. I proceeded to carefully measure them into the strainer in proportions that would make the perfect blend I was now craving. I brought the water to a rolling boil. I put in the strainer with my herb infusion into the boiling water and covered it up. Proceeded to make some breakfast while the water and the infusion worked together to create a new thing?

20 minutes later I sat down for tea time.

As I took the first sip of tea it tasted richer and more flavorful than any of the store bought tea infusions I typically enjoy on the week day morning. I thought about how this was ideal. The richness of the tea coupled with the extra fulfillment that came from the knowledge that I was involved in more of its creative process than any of the prepackaged tea bags I usually enjoy on week day mornings. My smug sense of appreciation was suddenly called into question. What made the more complicated process more ideal than enjoying the more simple process of an already made tea blend in a bag I just needed to add some hot water to and enjoy?

Why does the complex feel more rewarding than the easy?

I contemplated that question all through my tea time. A part of me felt that sometimes it can be ableist to chose challenge over simple. To feel like the things worth having must come through sweat and tears and negate the ways sweetness finds us easeful. And yet another part of me felt like there was the extra sweetness derived from getting to be part of a creative process for much longer than the step closest to consumption. A layer of sweetness we have lost from being socialized in a world with microwaveable dinners and instant access to everything and everyone. And the only resolution to this conundrum at this time feels like a both/and. There are times when all I have capacity for is to turn on the electric kettle and pour the boiling water into a mug with a pre-made tea bag of Numi mint tea to keep my early morning nausea under control. That will be ideal. There will be other days when I wake up with the capacity and the desire for homemade everything. That too will be ideal.

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