Tea is my favourite drink, more than a drink really it is an experience.
Brewing my first huge cup of chai in the morning (#chandernagor), enjoying a smoked lapsang souchong in the afternoon or a genmaicha with a friend always makes me feel better and more centered.
I get my morning Chandernagor tea from a little shop in Milano: I normally buy one kilo and it lasts for a couple months (yes, I drink a lot of it!) and now that I moved to the UK I have to be even more organized with my “doses” as they don’t ship outside of Italy.
The simple act of boiling the water, simmering the mixture of spices and black tea for two minutes, then adding milk and boiling for another two minutes, leaving the aromas develop and fill the air for two more minutes, then filtering and drinking slowly. I don’t like my morning chai too sweet, I don’t like it sweet at all while I know the real chai is made with lots of sugar that adds to its flavour.
It is a ritual, one that prepares me for a long day and sets the tone for the rest of the morning, no matter what is in my to-do list. Any ritual per se is grounding and soothing, reassuring to some extent on the fact that everything is going to be alright, giving back some sort of control over the external environment and calming the mind. When it involves tea, spices and beautiful vessels it also brings back many lovely memories like this exquisite cup bought in Japan at Gorakadan Onsen.
That must be the reason why so many cultures use tea and coffee as “mindful” moments, although it would be more correct to say mind-empty moments, since the focus on the preparation, and all the senses involved mean that there is very little mind and rationale going on, and a lot of instinctive repetitive and tasteful no-mind at work here.
There is an expression in Italian “essere un prezzemolino”, almost literally “to be like parsley”. I think the equivalent in English is “to have a finger in every pie” and the meaning is clear: it indicates someone who is always in the middle, who turns up everywhere. What I find amazing is the difference between these cultures on what it is that omnipresent: in Italy we use parsley and in the United Kingdom it’s the pie that’s everywhere.
Other than this taste difference, though, the reflection related to business that originates from this idiom is that sometimes we think the more we are seen, the more we obtain successes and recognitions, while those who are not always “in the middle” get pretty much unnoticed.
Well, this is obviously not always the case: in my mentoring experience, some of the young women I worked with had this very feeling, to be seen and heard every possible time by upper management, while instead I tried and suggest that their actions and results speak for them louder than any other initiatives.
Clearly these results need to be tied directly to them, and they have the clear responsibility to take credit for what they have done. As an example, I used to write on my resume’ “support this and that initiative” or “help launch this or that product”: my then mentor had a good lesson for me on assertiveness. She told me that if I was the owner and the responsible for that initiative or launch, I should have used more direct terms like “manage” or “own”.
There is a qualitative and quantitative difference between choosing when to speak and when to act, and strike a healthy balance between the two. It surely comes with experience, but we can help our mentee identify opportunities to step up…or step down.
Remember the parsley, there IS such thing as too much of a good thing!