Some women have martini nights, spa days, or morning power walks together; whatever you choose, dedicated girl-time can be very important to keeping yourself rejuvenated, and keeping your relationships healthy. There is something so soothing about a cup of warm tea, and a break in the afternoon can be the perfect pick-me-up for a busy woman in the middle of a long day. But why not make it more than that – a special time set aside for friends to chat and catch up with each other, set aside just for you and your girlfriends, with no interruptions and no excuses. “Now, for half an hour, I am going to sit and relax and talk to my sister.” Or your Mother, or your best friend.
The combination of ‘tea and sympathy’ has been around as long as the plant itself has been brewed and enjoyed. Tap into this tradition by creating your own rituals for your tea parties, ones that will strengthen the ties between you and your friends. It is so easy to chat over a cup of tea because no matter what comes up, be it talk of relationships, family, or more spiritual meanderings, you always have something to do with your hands. If you get into a tricky spot, just pick up another muffin, or top up your cups. You will find the words just flow across the table, and at the end you will feel rejuvenated and much closer to the special person across from you.
First, pick a day and time. It doesn’t have to be hard and fast, but perhaps you all have Saturday afternoons free, or Sunday mornings. Maybe you and your mother can spare an extra half hour after you go grocery shopping together. Or maybe your friend who works in the department downstairs can arrange to take her break at the same time as you. You don’t have to be at home to make this happen!
Next, pick a location. You should try to meet here as often as possible, to build up the associations of soothing and bonding and relaxation with your chosen locale. Maybe the breakfast nook at your sister’s house, maybe the front sitting room – reserved for special occasions – in your parent’s place, or maybe the cafe around the corner, if you are on a break at work.
What you drink should be carefully considered too. You can mix up your tea choices, for variety is the spice of life, but each flavour should be specifically chosen, not randomly picked out of the cupboard. Tea flavours have so many different scents and tastes, associations and affects on your body – take a few minutes to read up on them and you will be able to choose the perfect flavour to accompany each afternoon. Chamomile will calm you down, mint will refresh you, chai will likely warm you up with its rice spice, as will rooibus. Earl gray might bring back memories of your English grandmother, and a deep caffeinated orange pekoe will rev you up for the rest of the afternoon.
Traditions can be made out of anything, but the vessal you choose to sip from will have a special place in the ritual. You and your friends should each choose a special cup or mug, and if you are drinking out somewhere, just bring it along with you. (Many coffee shops will give discounts if you bring your own mug.) I have several favourite mugs, mostly handmade pottery collected from across the country, and each has different associations depending on where I’ve gotten it, who I drink with, and what I drink out of it. Then, after a friend has moved away, or a loved one has passed on, or for whatever reason the ritual has had to be discontinued, the mug and the flavour will always remind you of those special afternoons with a special person.
So, bottoms up everyone. Tea parties aren’t just for little girls anymore!