It's a pause for breath, a pick me up, companionship and a way to put the world to rights. Those leaves have the power to foretell the future, to turn a stranger into a friend, to create a sense of wellbeing and to cure. Tea making is an art form, a ceremony, a way to show someone that you're there for them, that you have something in common, that you want to listen, get to know them better, share your time. It's private ritual, social glue and it conveys compassion, support and love without the need for words. It's a gift, a service, a reciprocal arrangement, a tradition that dates back almost 5000 years and it's the world's favourite drink.
And for those days when your patience, goodwill and humour have packed their bags and left you, a cup of tea can be a way to take five. To stop. To regroup.
In the words of Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh:
"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life."
So rather than gulping it down, burning your mouth, while your mind's elsewhere, take the opportunity to enjoy the experience fully - and even if it's just for a few moments, be in those moments 100% - not thinking about what you've done or what you're about to do, but simply what you're doing - now.
With hundreds of teas to choose from, you can begin the process with the luxurious decadence of a wine connoisseur selecting from a list of prize-winning vintages - and once you've chosen the blend that suits the moment to a t(ea), spoon those delicate leaves carefully into a silver infuser - or try the exotically beautiful hand-rolled buds that unfurl like flowers in hot water. But a bag of PG Tips works just as well. Just focus.
Watch the tea as it spreads through the water and the effect of the milk that follows and sit down, feet on the ground. Enjoy the warmth of the mug or cup in your hand with all its reassuring solidity. Then feel the heat on the skin of your face before you take that first tentative sip that gives your lips, your tongue, your throat the full benefit. Breathe it in too - 90% of what is perceived as taste is actually smell - so allow yourself the maximum impact
It's possible to find a sense of calm in just a few minutes, and anything can become a form of meditation if you focus on it wholeheartedly - a cuppa included. These are the little things that can make a big difference to your day - and if a little thing's worth doing, it's worth doing well....
"A Proper Tea is much nicer than a Very Nearly Tea, which is one you forget about afterwards."