“When you have nobody you can make a cup of tea for, when nobody needs you, that’s when I think life is over. ” ~ Audrey Hepburn
One of my first jobs in Australia was for a mortgage lender that operated out of Burwood. As it was a company that grew very quickly, we did our work from a home office that didn’t have heating. If you’re familiar with Sydney weather, you’ll know that the coldest winter an immigrant can experience is April in Sydney. Temperature-wise we rarely get below 10 degrees Celsius but coming out of Summer without preparation, no winter clothes and the humidity driving in the chill into my bones, it was a cruel Autumn that particular year for me.
I worked alongside people from Vietnam, Bangladesh, Morocco, Croatia, New Zealand, Phillippines to give you an idea of the diversity of our home-office atmosphere. In the kitchen, there’d be food with all sorts of language on it and the smells that emerged during lunch hour, absolute heaven.
By April, I’d had my job for nearly six months and could feel that I wasn’t adding any value as a marketer. That is, there were no increases in inquiries or any measurable value that I could talk about to justify why I should continue to work there. I could feel the boss breathing down my back but I simply didn’t know what to do. I had an inkling that I’d be getting fired soon on top of the cruelty of the falling temperatures. The boss did fire me, right before Easter. How sweet, right? He couldn’t have timed it better, because at the time being on a 457 visa, I only had 28 calendar days to find a new job or get out of town. Why couldn’t he have fired me after the holiday break? Anyways, I’m still here and he had hired and gotten me a visa at a critical time so I only have gratitude in my heart and this is a story of tea anyways.
One morning I had Kay, my Vietnamese colleague make me my first ever matcha latte. She put a spoonful of green powder to a cup and added frothed milk. The smell was subtle, milky and sweet, the colour a minty green and the taste, divine. One encounter and I knew I had to get my hands on Matcha powder, which I found in an Asian shop nearby.
The next morning, another colleague, Isma asked me if I’d like Bangladesh tea, and I nodded yes. What I experienced in that tea was a burst of spices like cardamom pods, star anise, cinnamon, the sweetness of honey, which combined, bring a warmth that feels very much like love.
A Friendly Break
So many years later, my kitchen is full of spices, matcha, rose petals, tea blends, butterfly-pea flower and the usual English Breakfast, Earl Grey teabags. All of these new flavours of tea in my life is a testament to the diversity I’ve found living in Australia.
As I’m blessed with two young girls who love afternoon tea parties, we always pause for tea and it’s just a question of whether it will be Lion’s Mane tea, coffee, Chai, Turkish tea, tea with milk, matcha or anything else in our pantry that can be whipped into something warm to drink.
And you know, sometimes it’s wine or bubbles or a glass of Rose depending on whether we have some visitors who’d prefer something a little stronger. As 4PM our time here in Australia is 8AM in Istanbul, we grab a chance to call mum and have her share her morning tea with us. The girls have a wooden tea set with cupcakes and cake and they prepare tea for mum whose image appears on our phones thanks to video calls. We are grateful for tea for bringing us together around the table and for energising us before the dinner rush begins.
Time for Self
Tea is also a very good drink to have by yourself, or at least that’s what I found. As much as I revere the times I went out for tea or coffee with my friends in Turkey, I can also make myself a cup of Turkish tea or coffee, sit down with a cigarette (once a month) and my notepad, reflect and write out everything on my mind.
Somehow, it feels like I have my girlfriends with me in those times of self-reflection and I seem to hear their suggestions guiding me along if I’m trying to figure out where to take my book or writing projects.
Thank you tea for bringing out those things I keep down below in the depths of my mind. When the ideas do surface, it feels like receiving that proverbial sword from the Lady of the Lake. I find the strength to grab my pen and keep writing.
And a thank you to Amy Clarke for the picture and for illustrating the self restorative properties of a cup of tea.
Over to you…
Do you have a time of the day where you stop what you’re doing and catch your breath?
Do you feel energised and inspired after a pause?
I’d love to hear all about it. E-mail me at eda@WritePublishGrow.com and tell me.