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  • Kate Malone Hesser

What having COVID taught me about my tea drinking.

As if my inactivity on this site and spotty Instagram posts were not glaring enough - being home for 11 days with COVID made me realize that my relationship with tea had hit a rough patch. It's not that I stopped liking tea, or stopped thinking about it. On the contrary! But as I snuggled my sick self onto the couch with my Gongfu tray in front of me, I asked myself, "When was the last time I did this?" To be clear, I use my tea tray all the time. I even have a small one in my office, but the last time I had sat quietly and inhaled the steam and aroma, listened to the water settling into the spaces between the leaves, or made note of gentle flavor nuances and texture? I truly could not remember.

Tea and I were always on good terms, but truly became besties in the two-plus years my office was closed and I was working from home. Able to set my own daily pace, I could take 20 minutes a few times during the work day for a session. It took me out of stressful states of mind, lowered my heart rate, and allowed me to return to my work refreshed and calm. For someone living with adrenal fatigue syndrome, this was an ideal scenario, preventing episodic spikes and inflammation.

When I returned to the office - to a brand new role - in June, I noticed a shift in my daily care for myself. The abrupt wake-up, rush through morning routine into a commute, the being "on" all day, and my later and later arrival home were beginning to wear on me. Add in 5 major events in as many cities, a dynamic boss with lots of ideas, two teenagers, an elder dog, and a husband with an equally demanding job.... and I was perfectly primed to catch any bug that sailed in with a friend of a friend during our Thanksgiving visits. No shade or blaming. I am the one who let my guard down when I was already in a weakened state.

Was I hurting on the macro aspects? Absolutely. I was living in the very definition of the "daily grind." But more than that, I had stopped paying attention to the daily rituals that had kept me in balance for the two years prior - namely my tea sessions. I was still drinking lots of tea, but never focused, never mindfully. I was dumping my Gaiwan over a strainer during Zoom calls and gulping it down. None of the slowed-down elegance that I came to rely on.

Lest you conclude that my point of this ramble is that I got COVID because stopped drinking tea, let me remind you that I am NOT a doctor and would never make the claim that drinking tea prevents COVID. My deduction for myself is that the tea practices I had incorporated kept me calmer, lowered my general inflammation, and made me less susceptible to exhaustion and other ailments.

I missed a lot over the last 10 days and may be feeling the after affects of the virus for the next few weeks. There are few upsides to my experience, but I believe there are times when your body says "enough" and forces you to rest. In my case that included a return to treasured and healthy practices.

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