Teaology 101

I’m the kind of person who hates to be overheated, and it doesn’t take much for that to happen. I’m most comfortable around 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit, hence I am a big fan of air conditioning and household fans. Thank God I live in The United States! I am also overweight, and because of that I don’t like to wear shorts outside of my house. Summer reminds me of all my issues. This summer comes along at a time when I have been trying to get my health under control. I want to treat my body as God’s temple but it needs some much needed overhauling. In that attempt I am eating better, exercising more, and trying to rid myself of my Diet Pepsi/Diet Coke addiction.

I’ve never been a big fan of plain ‘ole water. I’ve bought a new infusion pitcher and have started drinking water infused with lemons, limes, and assorted berries. I am growing to like that. I have also been learning more about the health benefits of tea. I have been doing research on the various types of tea, what they offer in terms of health benefits, how to brew them, etc. I’ve learned so much, but still have a lot more to learn. Needless to say I have become a big fan of loose leaf teas, both hot and iced. Now that summer is here I have been brewing up iced teas everyday and loving it.

True teas come from the Camellia Sinensis plant. The true teas fall into one of five categories: black, green, oolong, white, and pu-erh. Herbal teas are not true teas as they do not come from the Camellia Sinensis plant. Flavor and nutritional content of the tea depends upon the maturity of the tea leaves and how it is prepared. Some teas are wilted, some are from the fresh buds of the plant. Some are fermented, some oxidized. Caffeine levels vary amongst the types of tea.

Some teas require higher temperatures to brew the tea. Duration of brewing also varies depending on the type of tea. If you go to a tea shop like Teavana or the Tea Smith and purchase tea, the bag will give you brewing instructions. Brew your tea too little, and it will produce a weak cup of tea. Brew your tea too long, and you will have a bitter cup of tea. The wrong temperature will also mess up your cup of tea. It can bruise the leaves. There is a lot to the process of making the perfect cup of tea.

Take one look in a tea shop and you will be overwhelmed. I know I was the first few times I entered one. Not only are there five types of tea, plus the herbals, but there are many variations within each type. Take, for example, black teas. This category would contain your standard breakfast cup of tea similar to Lipton, or English Breakfast as well as the various chai teas. Chai teas add spices to the black tea and vary depending on the part of the world they come from. These can include cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger. Green teas often have fruit pieces added to them. It’s a lot to wrap your mind around.

My newfound knowledge of tea has had a major impact on my faith walk. In Psalm 139:13-14a we see this, “For you formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” We may all be “human”, but our own particular “blend” is unique and handcrafted by God. In many ways He is the Master Teaologist, knowing just what to add to our blend, how long to “brew” us, and at what temperature we need to be brewed at.

I don’t know how many times in my life I have looked at my circumstances and compared them to others and questioned why I have had so many trials to go through when friends seemed to have it so easy. But now I think I know why. I think God created me like a black tea: rich and full bodied, a little more caffeinated than most, needing a higher temperature and longer brewing time in order to be the best me I can be. He has a purpose for me being a black tea. (I’d like to think I am a nice exotic chai, just a bit spicy). God also needs other “teas” in His Kingdom. Some of my friends are probably more delicate white or green teas and therefore require less steeping at gentler temperatures. Others are exotic oolongs. It would be a boring world if we were all the same. And I need to remember this so I don’t steep too long in my circumstances and become bitter.

Too often we try to sweeten up a bitter cup of tea by adding sugar. This is just a cover up, and we might need to just start over with a new cup. Luckily, that’s exactly what Jesus offers us: a chance to start over with new life if we just ask. He will brew up a new cup of you, done to perfection as only He can.

So what sort of tea are you? When you see the circumstances of your life and they seem to overwhelm you, don’t steep to long and become bitter. Know that the Master Teaologist knows just the right circumstances to brew you to be the perfect you. Just let Him do His job and trust Him for the results. And appreciate the variety in His Kingdom!

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