Life in the times of lockdown: A cup of tea is just like Hygge. Here’s why
There is no better word to describe my morning cup of tea, and that’s hygge. Perhaps it’s not even a word as much as it’s a sentiment, a feeling that only a fellow tea-lover will understand. From taking the first sip as the flavours hit my tastebuds to planning my day to just mulling over life, its pleasures and its curveballs, there is a lot that goes down with those sips from my cup of tea (it’s a large mug for me, and often times I want to own Hagrid’s tankard for similar intents and purposes).
Pronounced “hoo-guh,” the word is said to have no direct translation in English, though the closest explanation can be cosy or a feeling of warmth. According to the New Yorker, “it derives from a sixteenth-century Norwegian term, hugga, meaning “to comfort” or “to console,” which is related to the English word “hug.”
Similar to the German concept of gemütlichkeit and the Dutch idea of gezelligheid, the cosy lifestyle that hygge promotes has been an important part of Danish culture since the early 1800s when the word first appeared in the written language.
According to Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, “Hygge is such an important part of being Danish that it is considered “a defining feature of our cultural identity and an integral part of the national DNA.”
Hygge was also one of the most popular words and concepts to be introduced to the world in 2016, with several books published on the topic and many people around the world adopting the Hygge lifestyle to live a happy and content life, much like the wave that Ikigai had brought with it just a few years prior.
Tea, a history:
Tea is the second most-widely consumed beverage in the world after water. From the sugary Turkish Rize tea to salty Tibetan butter tea, there are almost as many ways of preparing the beverage as there are cultures around the globe. This animated video by Ted-Ed explains the origin story of tea:
It’s also good for health:
According to the World Economic Forum, “Regular tea drinkers have better-organised brain regions—something associated with healthy cognitive function—compared to non-tea drinkers. Take the analogy of road traffic as an example—consider brain regions as destinations, while the connections between brain regions are roads. When a road system is better organised, the movement of vehicles and passengers is more efficient and uses fewer resources. Similarly, when the connections between brain regions are more structured, information processing can be performed more efficiently.”
Black tea, green tea, matcha, white tea, oolong, infusions like chamomile or earl grey and more, tea has various varieties and something for everyone, in hot, cold, sweet, salty variants. While milk is usually added to a cup of tea freshly steeped, and ready-to-drink, most teas are best enjoyed in their original form with nothing coming between the brew and you.
Tea in culture:
Lewis Carroll described a tea party where Alice gets stuck in a time loop in Through The Looking Glass. But it wasn’t just the tea or the scones at this high tea arrangement, but a discussion so profound that might answer questions you never thought needed answering.
Tea connects people in ways often unimaginable. Like a bonding exercise, a cup of cutting chai or a kulhad if you fancy one, ensures you’ve found company in atleast a few people who may not share the same sensibilities about life but do so with tea. As you evolve, those choices or infusions might change, but memories shared at a Chai tapri outside your college or workplace will always be fond ones.
Imagine if there was no tea in an Indian household, what beverage would become a conversation starter in an arranged marriage setting? Would actress Tina Munim croon the lyrics “shayad meri shaadi ka khayal” to Rajesh Khanna if there was no chai (tea) in question?
What about the uncles and aunts in your society who come over for a cup of tea (mostly uninvited) to pry on your life and judge you for it?
But most importantly, what would a hot toast with butter floating on top (or bun maska) be without a cup of tea (chai meets maggi when you’re in the hills/mountains too)? Incomplete, I would imagine. Like half-written prose or an ineffectively narrated story.
To keep the positivi-tea going for you with your cup of chai-tea, here are some quotes on tea told by famous people in history and then some:
* Tea is liquid wisdom. – Anonymous
* You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me. – C. S. Lewis
* Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things. – Chaim Potok
* There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
* Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage. – Catherine Douzel
* If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty. – Japanese Proverb
* All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes. – George Orwell
* I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea. — Fyodor Dostoevsky
* Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book. — Bill Watterson
* There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life. — Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living
Yes, a cup of tea is nothing short of Hygge because it not just heals us from the outside but also warms us from within. If it’s a hot day, it’ll cool you down and refresh you; if it’s a cold winter morning, it’ll keep you cosy and comfortable, like a hug you need when you feel the most stirred and probably shook.