The Pleasures of Tea: A Brief Essay on Life’s Finer Things

indianteaNow that it’s nearly fall and turning cold, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate a comfort of life that we might easily pass over: tea.

Now, let me just say that I did not begin life as a tea advocate.  I paid no attention to tea until very recently.  Now that I spend most of my days as a desk jockey, often completing writing projects that involve some measure of my limited mental energy, I find it behooves me to locate whatever legal stimulants I can find to push me on in my work.  I observed certain people close to me drinking large amounts of tea, once decided to give it a try, and found it to my liking (Photo: NYT).

So the road that led me to tea was a pragmatic one.  I concede this.  Yet in becoming a tea drinker, I have come to realize that tea is in fact a most pleasurable good.  It is hot; it is often spiced, or at least flavored; it takes a while to cool down, and thus breeds anticipation; it is not heavy at all on the stomach and is in many forms good for you; and, as mentioned, it gives one a little burst of energy if one so desires.

It is difficult in this world to find a similarly enjoyable and yet similarly pleasant good.  All too often, the things that we like, that we gravitate toward, are in some way bad for us.  We must parse them out, have them very little, and feel (justly) guilty if we over-indulge.  Not so with tea.  Provided one keeps one’s caffeine down, it is the friend that stays by our side, the companion that constantly warms and that never leaves us unhappy.

So often, we chase the big and expensive things in life.  We assume that because they are big and expensive they will yield the most possible happiness, the greatest possible pleasure.  Yet as I make my way through life, I increasingly find that it is not necessarily the big and expensive that bring pleasure, but the small and inexpensive.  For the satisfaction it brings, tea requires little sacrifice.

So it is, I might point out, with spiritual blessings.  In Christ Jesus, God has given us every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3), every single spiritual gift and good we could ever want.  We lack for literally nothing.  There is nothing, in a spiritual sense, that we do not have when we know Christ as our Savior.  And yet–how much does all of this cost?  How big and expensive is it?  For us–it is nothing.  Only our life.  For Jesus, of course, it cost everything.

Now, I don’t think these theological thoughts to myself every time I drink tea.  I wish I did.  I don’t.  But I am aware that tea and what others have called the “simple pleasures of life” are in fact what they claim to be.  They are simple, pleasant, and they, in small amounts, combine to fill life full of happiness.  You don’t need big and expensive to find joy.  In fact, those who chase that which is big and expensive often find happiness elusive.

We need the small things.  A good scone.  A hot cup of tea.  Time with the kids on the floor playing beside them.  A conversation with one’s spouse on the porch, watching rain come down.  A long hour or two with excellent literature, the kind that doesn’t make you feel guilty for slowing down and re-reading.  A carefully crafted sermon that simultaneously convicts, teaches, and exhilarates.  A walk with a friend.  Another cup of tea.

And a Savior who has given us that which is simplest and that which is most pleasant: life, eternal life, overflowing with the experience of the unmediated grace of God.

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  • Owen,

    Let me recommend a tea made by Good Earth called “Sweet and Spicy Blend.” It is simply extraordinary.

  • Greg Smith

    I love tea also. Here is a link to a fine tea shop we have in our town. In addition to their website they have a delightfully simple brick and mortar store here in Des Moines. I am currently enjoying Green Snail Spring.

  • Owen,

    Now there is a post that I can agree with!!

    Thank you for coming over to our side now… the coffee drinkers may never forgive you!

  • What a delightful post! I use to drink coffee and tea until 2 years ago; now I only drink tea. There are so many types to enjoy while reading good theology 🙂

  • BC

    Good post, Owen, you’re quite right. But I should warn you that, even with tea, excess is possible, which, it’s been argued, I demonstrated in the first several months of college.