Our Tea Sessions
There have always been moments, times, spaces, and people, that have provided for restoration. These underrated elements and people are gifts because what they provide is (if only briefly) a time to rest, to settle a bit and to re-establish and re-connect with the self.
For me, the ‘tea time’ is such a gift. Whether sipping in isolation within a tent in the Himalayas or to sharing an hours’ long session with others tiny tea house in a huge grey city, tea and its taking have long provided that time to restore some balance and a kind of re-fueling of the body and mind.
At Akahiao Nature Institute it is one of the first elements I wanted to establish into any curriculum or program that we provide. From almost two decades of living in Asia, co-founding a tea company, and through countless restorative (and much needed) tea sessions throughout Asia, the idea of a tea session for any and all remains something vital in my view of day-to-day living.
The idea is that twice daily I prepare a tea of my choice for any of the participants interested. It is an offering to take a moment (or six) and simply sip and be. During the tea session, there is no obligation to speak, participate, or do anything. It is the sippers’ time to shut off, wander, or simply exchange with others. It lasts anywhere from 5-10 minutes and one or two cups usually does the trick. We serve the tea outdoors if it suits or indoors when preferred. And so, the tea session is as much about owning the moment (and the cup) as it is about the tea itself.
The tea’s origin and properties and qualities are introduced, the (tiny) cup(s) offered, and the tradition of taking time and tea reaches a new audience, while also refueling and calming.
Our first tea session in 2017 was an experiment of sorts. I had spoken to Julie about my wish to introduce this ‘old’ tradition into our youth programs. And so, this first tea session at Hue Hue began at 6am one morning when the dew and night sounds were giving way to day, with a student group from Oahu. I served a Darjeeling brew I had purchased at an estate called Jungpana, while on a journey there the previous year. Tea was served, and the words - and waking up - began amongst the group. Groggy youth arrived and grudgingly took a sip, and then took another, and then more. Mid-afternoon, just as energy levels typically begin to drop, another session was offered up…and loved. Those first sessions of time and tea became a necessary and understated part of our courses. Our tea times have become such a ‘thing’ that they are often requested if not provided on time!
The tea session was born and it has never been absent from any of our programs, whether they be overseas’ groups or our local gems. Teas from all over the world have been served up, including Mamaki that grows rampantly right here at Hue Hue.
Tea and the ‘tea sessions’ here aren’t simply about the leaves, or the time that it takes to finish a cup – it is about the offering and the brief moments to reflect, restore, or just be.