Growing up, some of my friends would have old-fashioned tea parties. Along with our mothers, we would dress up nicely and sip tea, eat scones, and sometimes even read poems out loud. Many fancy teashops popped up all over the place during that time frame as it was rather a fad, and you could spend a fair amount of money to sit in fancy tea parlors getting served tea (and reading more poetry, if that was your thing).
I never did learn to like poetry that well.
But I do love tea. Having embraced my husband’s (and my children’s) Asian heritage, most often you will find me sipping from an Asian style teacup (or just some huge, unromantic mug). I love sipping tea anytime, but the traditional practice to have a quiet time to relax, sip tea, munch on light food, and, often, enjoy another’s company is worth more than we may know. There are many beautiful and fun places to have tea in our area, but most often I serve it at home, very simply, to save money, and because home is a great place to be with friends and family.( Keep reading below for many recipe ideas. My tip, for the 52 ways to save money on a healthy diet series, are these frugal recipes to make at home for your own teatime treats).
In our hectic lives, just getting a healthy dinner on the table seems like quite the feat (am I right?). But putting out a simple pot of tea, a few munchies, and taking the time to visit with a friend, or enjoy a moment’s peace alone is worth a lot.
One of the things we as a society don’t do well is relaxing well. If you are like me, you often “relax” by researching something online, watching a movie, or (these days with young children in the house!) it can even seem relaxing to do chores!
However bad I am at it, I know that really doing something peaceful and truly relaxing takes commitment and even discipline. Yes, truly taking time to relax takes discipline. But taking the time to slow down for a small period of time each day can help you enjoy life, have better health, and get your priorities straight.
That seems to promise a lot. Let me explain.
Teatime can help you enjoy life
I am not saying that you have to make time for tea each day to have a happy life. What I am saying is if we are constantly working, constantly rushing around, running after children, doing laundry, driving to work, doing errands, constantly ____, you feel in the blank, it is so easy to have your life rush right past you without enjoying what you have, or making time for the truly meaningful things in life.
Whether you are taking time to sit in a park, or sit down to a simple tea in the afternoon without distractions from the TV, computer, or other electronic devices, I think that taking even a short time each day to let the worries and rush of the day care for themselves for a few minutes can help you sit back and enjoy that you are alive.
Teatime (or other relaxing activities) is good for your health
You may eat well. But without proper sleep and relaxation your body is going to have a hard time staying healthy. It’s at least equal in importance to finding health. And I have a hard time with it, I really do, because there are a lot of things I LOVE to do. I love to cook, I love to research, I love to write, I love to play the piano, and I love to do fun things with my children, and a lot more too. But I often don’t use my time well and waste time instead of finding time to truly relax and rest.
A midday snack could be very beneficial to your health
There is a lot of room for debate in how often you should eat during the day. Societies have done different things. Part of the reason an afternoon tea became popular in Britain was because dinner was often served so late, that people needed a pick-me-up in between meals. As someone who has always preferred to have snacks (regardless of how I am eating – low-carb, high-carb, etc.) and as a mother of young children with big appetites, planning on either a simple snack time or an afternoon tea helps me keep my children’s and my own blood sugar even and everyone happy.
And for those who drink tea there are a many studies that suggest that it could be very beneficial to your health as well. I shared just a very small portion of those studies here.
Can an afternoon tea really help get your priorities straight?
Well, that depends on what you plan. But taking time to quietly reflect, catch your breath, or visit with family or friend(s) is something that should be a priority. And you really have to make it a priority for it happen. Nothing happens accidentally in life, and so very often I realize how long it’s been since I’ve visited with a friend simply because life keeps rushing by. I find taking time to reflect gives me the opportunity to think about and remember different priorities that I should keep track of. Making spending time talking and just being with friends or my little family without rushing around, helps me put into action the priority I want to have of being in people’s lives.
Inviting a friend over for a mid-afternoon, or early evening cup of tea (or hot chocolate!) is a relaxing way to spend an hour. And spending time with people is a priority. I am not a tight-schedule, everything the same everyday, type person, but even making time for a simple tea once a week with a friend is going to help me realize my priorities, instead of just having them on paper.
Here are a few simple, frugal, healthy, and delicious ideas to serve with tea.
Simple Contemporary Tea
Teatime doesn’t have to be fancy. The above afternoon tea was simply two stems of my fresh chocolate mint from the garden steeped for about 5 minutes, served with raw honey and a bowl of macadamia nuts. And guess what? It was good. I use my Bodum coffee press all the time, and one the uses I have for it is making tea. I love the multiple uses I have for this! It isn’t as elegant as some of my other teapots, but it is functional and works well for those who have really small kitchens and like to keep things as simple as possible. Going with the nut theme you could also serve chocolate covered macadamia nuts, or a type of nut/fruit treat like this one.
Really, tea can be served with any type of snack, and nuts and seeds (I prefer roasted or soaked or dehydrated) are a super simple, no fuss plan. Fruit such as peaches, berries, melon, apples, pears, or others can be served plain and unadorned, or cooked simply (such as this recipe for baked apples, or cherry chalfouti). Whipped cream (dairy, or coconut based) is a simple yet amazing dip for fruit. Especially if you make it chocolate (dairy-free version coming soon!).
But no need to keep it sweet! Serve buttered (grassfed) toast (from healthy bread), along with whatever toppings you’d like such as sardine salad, cucumbers, fresh from the garden tomato slices, raw cheeses, sliced avocadoes, or whatever else catches your fancy.
Traditional British Tea Food
Of course, you can definitely go the British route, yet make it nourishing as well. Serve black tea with pumpkin scones, or make soaked biscuits (whole wheat or gluten-free) with a little added unrefined sugar and/or currants, and then serve with lemon curd, orange curd, or Meyer lemon curd, along with whipped cream or crème fraiche.
Cucumber sandwiches on the side never hurt anyone either.
Think outside the box
A local teashop serves these amazing spinach wraps as one of their tea foods, and my oldest daughter (who is six) and I really like them! They are super fun to eat, and so healthy too! We liked it so well, we made our own version. Check out the recipe here. We like to serve it with chai. Between the chai and the exotic spinach rolls, this is one flavorful teatime!
Teatime is just one way to work in a little downtime during the day (or evening!). How do you find time to reflect, slow down, visit, or rest? I’d love to hear!
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Thanks, it’s a great idea! I get very sleepy in the afternoon, and when I give myself a proper break, it feels much better.
Funny that your favorite snack and tea at the teashop is mine as well. 🙂
It is so refreshing to read your thoughts on making teatime a quiet time to benefit both our health and souls. I’ve been thinking so much about this too! I noticed I was doing this once my son was down for his afternoon nap. That same time every afternoon, I would grab a “comfort” cup of tea, sit down (usually at my laptop), and spend a few precious minutes doing some light reading or catching up with a friend via email, etc. It’s become such a healthy habit with me now. And I’m so glad to read that I’m not the only one who’s been thinking along these lines!
i LOVE this post!! The best and most meaningful I have ever read
Ok, you may have nudged me enough to pursue this as a break time for our homeschool afternoon. My question is, does the screen on the Bodum work well enough to use dried, loose tea, or do you end up drinking the tea “grounds”? I realize that part of the point is to not use a filter, but would it be better to tie the tea in a filter first?
I find that the screen works really well. Occasionally I find that rooibos gets through a bit, but generally I find it works just as well as anything else does. 🙂
I have a bodum, and never thought of using it for tea! Fantastic idea. Can you share any other ideas of what kinds of herbs and things to brew in my bodum?
What a wonderful post! Currently I am ‘relaxing’ while catching up on your blog and feeding the baby, with my tea in a travel mug so it has some chance of staying hot! I agree with Rebecca – this post is so relevant to our everyday and it is such an important skill to learn how to truly relax – as you say to enjoy that you are alive. Its easy to forget about that very important gift. I think my grandparents, even my parents, are much better at having their teatime, almost as a matter of necessity – I wonder how or why we have let that ritual slip from our everyday. Thanks for the lovely and much-needed reminder.
Thanks for the reminder. The kids(5y &b 3y) and I were having a daily tea time through out winter and spring this year while I read books out loud to them late afternoon. Summertime fun has made it tough to do this; but am thinking maybe I need to re-institute this. It was my favorite part of the day. And it’s amazing what conversations little ones are willing to have as well over a nice cup of tea.
My mother-in-law was British so tea time has been a daily respite for our family. But, we have changed over to herb teas from the black tea that she served. I never thought to use the coffee press for tea; I like that. Yes I still make tea, but often times we just drink it while we go back to our work. This post is a reminder to take time and savor perhaps with your cucumber sandwich recipe!