The famous line in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities describes today’s modern society perfectly; “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” We live in an age of unprecedented technological advancement. This is evident in the ways we communicate with each other, the ways we treat diseases, and the in the ways we record and distribute information. Never before in the history of humanity have we had such ready access to so much information and such ready access to near-constant mental stimulation through entertainment and communication. Never before have we been so interconnected by our use of smartphones, computers, and tablets. Unfortunately, this technological “best of times” also comes with its downsides. With constant mental stimulation and fast access to connectivity, we have lost something of ourselves. In many ways we have misplaced our own individuality and linkage with nature. We spend less time contemplating our place in the natural world and appreciating its splendour. After coming to this realization in my own life, I used tea to bring me back to myself, and back to my roots in the natural world. Spending time among nature while drinking tea has proven immensely valuable in my life for enhancing my overall well being and giving me a tremendous peace of mind.
One of the single greatest pleasures in my own life is spending time within a natural setting and enjoying my favourite tea beverage at any time of the year. In itself, tea contains many relaxing qualities which are inherent in its chemical makeup. These, paired with a natural setting serves as a potent reminder of the value of simplicity and quiet contemplation in the modern era.
Try this for yourself. With a vacuum-sealed bottle meant for hot liquids, bring tea along with you on your next outing. Whether you go on a hike, camping, or simply to a bench at your local park, drink some tea and turn off your phone or other electronics. You may be surprised how good it will feel to disconnect, even if for only a few moments. You may find yourself learning more about your own personality and your relationship with the world. You will find that you become more relaxed while amongst nature; a feeling that is enhanced by your tea of choice.
When it comes to what tea to bring with you on your outing, it really boils down (excuse the pun) to what you feel is best for your own taste preferences and your setting. For me, it truly depends almost entirely on the time of year, where I will be going, and what the weather will be like while I’m out.
In the fall, when the air starts to cool down and leaves begin to turn, I love to brew myself a cup or six of a nice and robust black tea, such as English Breakfast or Assam, and take it with me on my walks and hikes. I find that the astringent and full-bodied character of these teas make them an ideal match for the crisp air and colours of the season.
In the winter, particularly around the holidays, I tend to be drawn more towards flavoured black teas, my all-time favourite being Earl Grey. Earl Grey shares many of the same qualities as both English Breakfast and Assam, along with other non flavoured black teas. However, it differs in that it possesses a clean citrus overnote that brightens the profile and sweetens the overall character. This citrus is lent to it from oil of the Bergamot fruit, grown and originating in the Old World. If you are looking for a tea to have on hand to get you through the winter of driveway shoveling and snowstorms, I highly recommend that you take some Earl Grey with you on your next winter hike through a forest.
When the weather starts to heat up again and the snow begins to melt, we shed our coats and sweaters in favour of shorts and t-shirts, I like to treat myself with herbal tisanes or green tea. The clean, fresh, and naturally sweet flavour profiles of these teas are a match made in heaven for walks on the beach, camping, and hiking.
Regardless of what tea you drink, remember that it is important to unconnect yourselves from the trappings of the modern age in which we live every once in awhile. The famous Dickens’ line from A Tale of Two Cities still holds true to this day. We truly do find ourselves living in both the best of times and the worst of times. The technological advancement that we enjoy has made our lives easier and more convenient in almost every area, however with our constant exposure to it we have lost our connection to nature. Make sure you reconnect with tea and with nature by going out and bringing your tea along for the trip.