The winter holidays have come to a close, the kids are back in school and moms everywhere are breathing a collective sigh of relief.
At a scavenger hunt in Long Beach the weekend before schools reopened, a group of mothers watched passively as their gaggle of children raced about, looking for hidden treasures. Leticia Andrade, mother of three young girls, had organized the hunt looking for a way to get her house-bored children out of her hair and into nature. Bundled up in fur-lined coats and knee-high boots, some of the women leaned back in their lounge chairs, happy for the repose. The mothers, after spending their holiday weeks gift shopping, cooking and vacationing, all agreed that they needed a break—a spa treatment, a pedicure, an eyebrow threading, a luxuriously uninterrupted nap.
Another quick and inexpensive way to find a sense of harmony and relaxation, however, is to spend a morning or afternoon over tea. As school, work and activity schedules threaten once again to overwhelm, a few hours of tea time might be just the respite the tired body and mind need.
While tea has long been lauded for its health benefits, including blasting fatigue, it is also a perfect symbol for careful and intentional nurturance and meditation. Consider the process of tea, from nature to cup. From planting to pruning, distributing to steeping, tea-making is complex and fascinating, giving us food (or liquid) for thought as we take our time sipping the green, white, black or red teas from our cups. Hot tea, from preparation to enjoyment, requires us to slow down.
According to The Republic of Tea’s The Book of Tea and Herbs, drinking tea and herbal fusions for their wellness benefits is just as important as indulging in them for taste:
“People have used herbs as medicine for as long as there have been people who got sick. According to archaeological evidence, humans in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) used yarrow, marshmallow, and other healing herbs some 6,000 years ago. More than 100 of our most valuable drugs—among them digitalis, quinine, and the ubiquitous aspirin—are derived from common plants used since antiquity in the healing arts.”
Need more convincing? Consider this quote from Donna Cosmato of Love To Know as flu season is at an all-time high: “Known as ‘bitters,’… (an) herb can affect physiological reactions within the body, working as an astringent, a tonic, a relaxer, a stomachic, and an internal cleanser.” www.lovetoknow.com
For some unique tea houses and bars in and around the Long Beach area, check out these businesses:
1. The Green House, 149 Linden Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802, http://thegreenhouselb.com/. Located on a quaint and hip street in downtown Long Beach, The Green House offers up soothing green décor, a small (but nice) selection of cold and hot teas and some nice hideaways (including a sitting area full of books).
2. Royal Cup Café, 994 Redondo Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90804, http://www.royalcupcafe.com/. Dark and romantic, this ample-sized coffee and teahouse feels like a throwback to another era. Want pure indulgence? Try the Triple Caramel Black Tea. It gets “the crown” for sure.
3. Tea Station, 11688 South Street, Ste. 101, Artesia, CA 90701, http://www.teastation.us. Large, airy and bright, this teahouse’s overwhelming list of teas (hot, cold and blended) leave you dizzy. Then, when your tea arrives, all will be right in the world.
4. Tranquil Tea Lounge, 106 W. Wilshire Avenue, Fullerton, CA 92832, http://www.tranquiltealounge.com. While it’s a few miles away in a busy college area, the drive and the crowd are well worth it. These folks know how to do tea right. Offering black, green, Oolong, pu-erh, rooibos and herbal blends with names that tantalize the senses (“Dolce Banana”) and speak to our desire for wellness (“Serenity”), this tea lounge will entice you to relax and learn a great deal about tea in the process. For weary moms, a great menu choice is “Tea for Her,” a blend designed “to support every woman’s needs by restoring balance in the body, mind & soul.” Consists of organic green rooibos, fennel, roses, lavender, chrysanthemum, osmanthus, hibiscus and shatavari. Don’t leave without ordering the mouth-watering blueberry teacake topped with golden vanilla ice cream!