Of the many adages penned to describe the passage of time, few aptly capture its paradoxical nature, embodying both the infinite and the impermanent. This dichotomy shapes the human experience in countless ways and affects our routines in countless more. Consider then the tea ceremony, the ageless ritual of preparing and serving green tea. Although born of Chinese Zen philosophy, the tea ceremony as we know it today was perfected by the Japanese. Often referred to as chado or “way of tea”, the goal of the tea ceremony is to create a space in which participants can remove themselves from the hurried pace of day to day life. In fact, traditional Japanese tea ceremonies can last for up to 4 hours. The very nature of the tea ceremony is a testament to the pivotal role time plays in tea’s preparation; each step of tea’s preparation requires time to savor its inherent beauty. Suffice it to say: perfection takes time.
Despite the universality of time, its meaning isn't analogous across cultures. In Western cultures like that of North America, time is largely considered a linear phenomenon – always moving forth. What’s more, it’s considered a commodity. The sands of time are a currency, each grain a banknote to be saved, spent, or squandered. Therein lies its value; the inherent treasure encompassed in fleeting moments that, once gone, are never to be seen again. Eastern cultures value time as well, albeit very differently. In countries like China and Japan, the collective cultural understanding of time is cyclical – a recurring pattern of sunrises and sunsets, of seasons melting into one another. In that sense, time is infinite. It becomes a space for contemplation.
The very nature of brewing tea lends itself to this slow contemplation – the meeting of tightly coiled leaves and hot water’s open embrace gives rise to a slow exchange of the aromas and flavors. Such is the process of infusion, the extraction of molecular compounds from the tea leaves. Giving rise to both a visual reaction and a chemical one, the change in color as the tea seeps in is evidence of the compounds being released into the water on a cellular level. Herein time plays a pivotal role: the longer it takes for this cellular exchange to occur, the more potent the resultant flavors and aromas. Yet, it’s important to note the type of tea being brewed as well.
Teas which undergo more delicate transformation during manufacturing are quick to release their bounties during infusion. Japanese green teas are a perfect example: Japan's manufacturing mode d’emploi is a gentle steaming technique which prevents oxidation and redies the tea leaves for consumption. As such, Japanese green teas have some of the shortest infusion times, scarcely needing a dip in the water to unfurl. One such example is our Yuzu Midori, an organic Japanese green tea blend with Kukicha, Matcha and yuzu citrus.
This potent kukicha green tea blend, generously dosed with rich matcha powder, and paired with the fragrant tart rinds of prized Japanese Yuzu citrus, makes for a delightfully refreshing, invigorating and nutritious bright green cup. With an infusion time of just one minute, there’s little wait to enjoy this lively cup.
On the other hand, teas which have a more rigorous manufacturing process must languish for longer periods in order to coax out their timid flavors and aromas. At this end of the spectrum are herbal teas, a category of teas which is dried during manufacturing to reduce moisture. When infusion begins, it can take as many as 10 minutes of languorous infusion to derive the full flavors and aromas encompassed within. For those who are eager to enjoy their herbals, our Pure Prana takes but 4 minutes to infuse. A caffeine-free organic tea of cleansing Ayurvedic herbs and vitalizing spices like cleansing lemongrass, spicy, immune-system-boosting ginger and stimulating peppermint, brightens our day with a sunny injection of life-force energy.
Of course, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, While ample time is a necessary provision for a perfect brew, it’s possible to over-steep tea as well. As the tea continues to release aromas and flavors into the water, the prolonged exposure may result in astringency. That’s why there’s no better accessory than our elegant hourglass to measure the seconds as they pass. Simple though it may seem, its presence embodies a universal truth – that even the best rituals have their due time.