Six Serious Life Lessons from Yoga and Tea

Tea Talk 21Yoga and tea are ancient spiritual disciplines and therapies that work on creating harmony between mind, body and spirit. In the aaaah!… good stretch of the muscles and steeping of the tea leaves in hot water, lies an entire philosophy that is inspiring the world to change the way we live and think.

The principles of yoga are parallel with the art of tea. They both are addictive practices that alter the very way we feel, think, understand and experience life – a life beyond the good and the evil. I believe my tea journey wouldn’t have reached this present if my fifteen years with Ashtanga yoga, hadn’t morphed the confluence of my asanas into something more personal.

Yoga has so much to give us beyond its science of asanas. In the subtle moments of deep self-connection and introspection, it’s transformative powers inspire us to embrace change and grow to new heights. In case you are on a path to achieve modern day enlightenment and are in search of living a more deliberate life, here are six lessons that have helped me trust in the practice and in the answers that arise from it.

1. Alignment – One of the best lessons you can learn from yoga is to master the art of staying calm and not give a F. Yoga emphasises the most on the importance of correct body alignment, to hold an asana and do it correctly. This is a prerequisite for all the good energies to generate and flow, and bring us to a meditative state that we are seeking. Yoga teaches us how to live in harmony with life’s asymmetries, by subconsciously making us understand the significance of our health and well-being.

2. Courage – Off the mat, yoga teaches us our capacity to build strength and withstand life’s obstacles. Asanas are not exercises. They are very subtle methods of manipulating our energy in a certain direction. If practised correctly and mindfully, yoga can break down all the negative thinking patterns, psychological, emotional and physical barriers that inhibit us from thriving and feeling bulletproof.

3. Consciousness – The longest journey is the journey inward. Yoga helps to develop a connection with our soul, and it makes us experience the spiritual energy that is a pathway for higher awakening, consciousness, intuition and healing. Yoga and tea are forms of meditation and they make us realise, that mindfulness does not have to be complicated. Just ending a yoga session by lying down still and deep breathing in Savasana, followed by a cup of tea, simplifies the whole concept of “mindfulness”.

4. Feel less pain – Letting go and moving on is the hardest asana. In yoga, we are taught to “let go” when we are sitting calmly, deep breathing on the mat and even when we are trying to nail a headstand effortlessly. Releasing all the tension and breathing through the noise of it all, is the smoothest take-off. Yoga, just like tea, shows us that we have the power to silence the chaos within. Both the practices help us comprehend the true reality – that just as pain compounds with time, so do positive thoughts.

5. Evolve – Once you get into yoga and tea, you are a student for life. The science of asanas and the history of different kinds and styles, make our bodies limitless. Awakening our senses and opening our minds to receive information is the mantra that creates the “zest” factor in our lives. Yoga teaches us how to open to the world and stay receptive to all its possibilities and opportunities.

6. Self-love  – Yoga makes us sensitive and helps us listen to our body’s messages and emotions. It forms the connection that we are looking for. Right from what we should and shouldn’t eat, how we must deal with toxicity, to serious decisions about what we want and do not want in life – the practice of yoga creates a sacred foundation within ourselves, where there is more acceptance, freedom, love, peace, joy and light. It’s a total upgrade!

Inspired to read more about the uplifting effects of yoga and tea? Here are 5 reasons why Rangsaa is your best post-yoga drink.

Illustration credit: Erika Lourenco

RANGSAA TALK – Marathi Literature Festival

I recently got invited to be a part of the panel at India’s first Marathi Literature Festival organised by Dainik Bhaskar Group in Nasik. The theme of the event was “From Tapri to Cafes: Exciting Days Ahead”.

It was an honour to join the fellow panellist Ankit Bohra, founder of Tapri Cafe in Jaipur and Priya Kapoor, founder of Roli Books Publication and CMYK stores. While Ankit represented the love for traditional chai in India and Priya highlighted the growing trend of cafes in bookstores, Rangsaa was there to introduce people to the new culture of tea and the Global Tea Movement that we have initiated.

It was a great opportunity for me to speak about our incredible Rangsaa journey. I was deeply humbled and honoured to share my knowledge, insights…and of course love for tea in the company of esteemed authors, writers, creatives and visionaries. The hospitality and kindness of people in Maharashtra always fills my heart. And I thank Dainik Bhaskar group with all my heart for this opportunity.

RECIPE – Instant Firebird Whisky Cocktail

Recipe Tea Rangsaa Insta Tea

Tea-time meets happy hours with this classic instant tea cocktail that is straightforward, well-balanced and boasts myriad of refreshing flavors that you are bound to enjoy!

KEY INGREDIENTS
1/4 tsp Instant black tea powder
50ml JW Red Label
4 mint leaves
Lemon slices
1 inch ginger
2 tsp honey

PROCEDURE
Pop 3–4 mint leaves into a shaker. Add instant tea powder, Johnnie Walker Red Label, ginger piece, a lime slice, honey and muddle them together. Add ice and shake vigorously until cold. Strain into a glass with 2-3 ice cubes and 3-4 lemon slices. Garnish with mint leaves.

FOOD PAIRING
Caramelised scallops, smoky steak or bbq veggies – preferably brussel sprouts.

Drinking Tea And The Art Of Doing Nothing

Tea Talk 11AThe Italians have a beautiful concept signifying the pleasantness of inactivity – ‘La Dolce Far Niente’, which roughly translates to ‘the sweetness of doing nothing’.

Well, the concept seems easy as taking a break doing relaxing activities gives us lot of options to chose from. But the challenge here is to cultivate ‘mental silence’, which isn’t just about getting respite from the distractions of office chatter or deadlines. It’s about the real sustained silence that quietens inner as well as outer chatter and takes us beyond the noise. A state that can be easily attained through the ‘Art of Tea Meditation’.

A recent Harvard Business Review states that the busier we are, the more quiet time we need. It emphasises on the need of structured periods of silence as important factors in achieving success. In our modern lives when our day begins running on a treadmill of duties and ends with exhaustion, taking a silent break is a luxury. Tea is the modern day meditation and a simple solution to effortlessly embrace the art of doing nothing and experiencing mental silence.

Tea masters and monks have been practising the ‘art of tea way’ for more than 3,000 years – an art that consists simply of boiling water, preparing tea and drinking it. Embracing the traditional goodness of tea in modern times by upgrading our tea-time can help to reprogram our thoughts, manage the non-stop information flow and cultivate periods of deep silence. It can condition our minds to be more adaptive and responsive to the complex environments in which so many of us now live, work, and lead.

Our lives can be a lot different if we take a deliberate pause by just giving 30 minutes of our day to the process of making our cup of tea. This pause declutters our mind, bringing about a sense of calmness and tranquillity.  You can chose this time to unwind, plan your day, read a book, think about what you love, admire the view from your window or think about nothing at all. You make your tea, absorb yourself in the process, sit and sip with no particular agenda, letting yourself go wherever your mind takes you. You could also use this time to think about what kind of life would be worth living, rather than simply living the life you live.

With each passing day, we feel more tired, hoping for a reboot in the form of a break, a pause from the daily hustle. And this idea usually translates into a quarterly vacation – travelling to a far off land to get away from the madness for a while. But we don’t need to postpone that idea any further because the elusive ‘relaxation’ that we yearn for is not just found in the scenic landscapes of our ideal vacation spots. It exists within each one of us and is ours to claim if we learn to embrace it with a tea lifestyle. So instead of fantasising about that one big vacation, brew your tea, find that perfect spot in the house, and reboot your life with a simple tea meditation.

The world is getting louder. But silence is still accessible. It just takes commitment and creativity to cultivate it.  Make your cup of tea mindfully, take a deep breath, relax and let your brain move away from the abstract and the distant towards the tangible and the near.

INTERVIEW – In Conversation with Carne Griffiths

Carne Griffiths InterviewInfusing the beautiful colours of various teas in his artwork, Carne Griffiths, a UK based Artist, swaps paint for a cuppa to create intriguing portraits, working primarily with tea, vodka, whisky, brandy and calligraphy ink.

Carne’s approach to painting, which often includes drawings of faces that break down at the edges into floral motifs and exuberant painterly marks and stains, has captivated viewers globally, with his work being exhibited from Milan to Hong Kong, as well as at The Royal Academy in London. Griffiths’ celebrity subjects include Heidi Klum and Kate Beckinsale, and his illustrations of Donald Sutherland and Jesse Eisenberg can be found in recent editions of The New York Observer.

In an exclusive conversation with LoveforTea, Carne takes out some time during his recent solo exhibition at Westbank Gallery in London, and shares his inspiration and vision behind his emotionally-driven work and why he adores painting with tea.

1. Carne, you paint with tea, ink, alcohol, gold leaf powder and diamond dust. How did such unique elements land in your work and how did it all begin? 
CG: Alcohol was the first unusual material to appear in my work, and it appeared merely by having a drink of brandy nearby – sometimes when I am working I do so in a very chaotic way so if there is something nearby that can be used to create I will use it. The water I was using was dirty so I used the brandy instead – not quite an accident but utilising something as a replacement.  The brandy had a very subtle but interesting effect on the work – so I decided to pursue it further but using a non-alcoholic alternative – and tea seemed to be the ideal way to reproduce the colour.

This led to the exploration of using different teas, different hues and colours and also different strengths.  It had the effect of providing an earthy palette to my work and I was able to build confidence using colour – I liked its chaotic nature and the way it could be steered around the page gradually becoming darker in tone as it dried. Tea became a key component in my work and certainly helped in raising awareness of my work as it created an unusual story.

2. What types of tea do you use in your work and which are your personal favorite?
CG: Early work focussed on using chai and jasmine teas – I worked mainly with Twinings but every time I travelled I would collect unusual teas – basil tea from India – different chais, wrapped teas and loose leaf teas, herbal teas such as sage and rose hip teas both from turkey – it was interesting to see the subtle differences in each and also – various teas would change dramatically in colour as they dried.

3. Which are your favourite teas and the time of the day you enjoy drinking them?
CG: I mainly drink the teas as I am using them but as I leave the teas to steep indefinitely they become bitter, as a side I normally have a cup of builders tea to hand! My favourite summer tea is Jasmine and it’s also a fine tea for painting – it has a honey like colour on the page and can give very subtle effects.  It also combines really well with turquoise inks to form a palette of blues and greens.

4. Your portraits are an amalgamation of different elements and art forms. How do you approach the blank canvas?
CG: I approach each piece of work with a very open mind – quite often the particular theme or collection of elements evolves slowly through the process of creating – I begin with a sketch which will form the basis for the composition but then the process involves layering marks and then building up and destroying areas using the hot teas or sometimes just plain boiling liquids.

5. Tell us about your ongoing solo exhibition at Westbank Gallery.
CG:
My solo opened on the 8th of June and will run until the 14th – it is a collection of works on paper using teas and inks but also a small collection of newer works on canvas.  I want to try and develop my style of painting to using a more versatile media – teas and inks work very well on paper, I use them almost exclusively on bockingford watercolour paper from St Cuthbert’s mill which I always stretch before working – this helps to keep the surface flat and prevents pooling of liquids in areas you wouldn’t want.

6. How has your work matured over the years as an artist?
CG: My work evolves very slowly and subtly – as an artist I have found that interesting projects will steer the direction of the work and force you to think how you can combine your main message with the subject of say a group exhibition.  I also work as an illustrator and with some brands through my agency Beautiful Crime, these projects bring new elements into the work and often result in changes to the overall style.  I have a passion for detailed observational drawing but I also have a passion for the abstract and the act of automatic drawing or drawing from the subconscious – I try to fuse these two areas in my work as it keeps me interested and excited about the subject.

7. Which are your favourite works from your journey so far?
CG:
I always find it difficult to select favourites but there are pieces of my work which have been key to progressing a style, the early piece Rose, was the one that defined my work as a combination of nature and portraiture, then there was the piece Strength which broke boundaries with colour and gave me a real platform to showing my work.  Following this was a piece from a triptych series called Eleven, that series had a lot of meaning for me – it was based around numerology and was created at a real junction in my life.

8. Is there an artist you admire. Tell us who and why?
CG: I spent my college years working alongside artist Dan Baldwin, when we went our different ways after college I worked the 9-5 but he painted constantly and now is established as one of the most exciting contemporary artists of today.  I always admired his drive and energy – there was barely a time when he was not an artist and I think this sort of drive and creativity are what result in a truly authentic creative.

9. How is your ideal day when you are not painting?
CG: I enjoy spending time in nature, cycling or even just in the garden – it’s small observations about the natural world that influence the work and it’s the main message in my work – returning the importance to the natural world.

Carne’s entire gallery can be seen on his website and Behance.

RECIPE – Insignia Tea Créme Anglaise by Robert Wemischner

Recipe Tea Rangsaa Insignia Robert W

Pastry chef and culinary educator Robert Wemischner, adds complex wonderful flavors of Rangsaa tea to the popular Créme Anglaise in this vibrant Rangsaa Insignia Tea Créme Anglaise recipe, that finds it’s use in versatile desserts. Thank you Robert Wemischner for creating this wonderful recipe and sharing the Rangsaa love.

KEY INGREDIENTS
Yield: approximately 1 cup
1 generous tbsp Rangsaa Insignia
240 ml whole milk
3 egg yolks from large eggs
50 gms granulated sugar

PROCEDURE
Place the milk and tea in a heavy saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Once ready, remove it from heat and let it stand for another 5 minutes. Pour through a fine-meshed sieve and set aside. While your mixture is getting done, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until the sugar dissolves and the mixture has lightened in color. In a clean saucepan, reheat the infused milk to the simmer. Pour gradually over the egg yolks and sugar mixture, stirring to combine. Return that mixture to the saucepan and cook until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (180 degrees F.)  Do not overcook or the mixture will curdle. Once thickened pour it through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl set over ice water. Stir to cool quickly. Store in an airtight container refrigerated for up to 2 days.

RECOMMENDED USE
As the basis for an ice cream, as a dipping sauce for brownies or other rich cookies or bars, as a sauce over the ice cream of your choice, as a plating sauce for a seasonal fruit tart or as a pour over fresh berries.

Check out the original recipe here.