spirituality

"Gimme a tea, you bastard. Please."

(This is a guest post by Kole McRae of Chilled Soda. If you’re interested in guest posting at Tao of Bachelorhood, you can find out more here.)

You are a gentleman. I am dubbing you one and you are going to learn to drink tea like one. This is important and is a skill that you will use for the rest of your life (if you know what’s good for you).

The art of drinking tea (like a goddamn gentleman) has been around for thousands of years. Ancient British and Chinese cultures had complex and sometimes beautiful rituals around the tea serving process. These rituals have changed over the years but many of the basics have remained exactly the same.

These rituals weren’t made up just for the hell of it. Who would go through all that crap just for tea? Hell, you could just buy some from the guy at ye olde Starbucks.

They created these rituals as a form of meditation and relaxation. The tea ceremony helped people clear their mind, relax, reduce stress and generally figure things out. Other forms of meditation include chanting, dancing or even counting to ten, but this form actually produces something delicious.

So I am going to teach you these basics.

Why? Because it will impress women, impress your boss and get some culture into your head.

There are two kinds of tea drunk around the world: bagged and loose-leaf. The instructions I shall bequeath upon you will work fine for both. I’ll make amendments where necessary. You should use loose leaf though…seriously.

Loose leaf tea has a slew of benefits. It can be reused multiple times, it tastes about 400,000,000 times better and the price really isn’t that much higher. Not to mention it just screams sophistication when you open a drawer to make tea and pull out tins of dried leaves imported from around the world…versus opening a box of Tetley.

Back to my lesson:

First, get out your ceramic teapot. Metal teapots will not do. Seriously, metal changes the taste, get a nice ceramic one. This teapot is never to be washed with soap. You may clean it after use with hot water and hot water alone. Take some boiling water and pour it into the teapot, swirl it around a bit. Think you’re done? Swirl it a bit more to be sure. Now you’re done.

Next, take some pure, cold water and bring it to boil in a tea kettle, saucepan…any way you wish. Before it boils—like, a few seconds before that water starts to fully boil, take it off the stove and pour it into the teapot.

This is not tea yet. Do not drink it.

For each person who is joining you in this tea adventure, put one spoonful of tea leaves into the pot and then add one more “for the pot.” If you’re using tea bags, just use one tea bag per person and one extra for the pot. But why the hell would you use tea bags? Are you some kind of animal?

Let it sit for six minutes. It is now tea. The tea leaves should have settled, but tip the tea pot gently as you pour to make sure they stay at the bottom.

Pour the newly made tea first into your friends’ cups, and then into yours. It is customary to do it in a clockwise direction starting immediately to your left. You must be using tea cups, not mugs. You may then add milk and sugar to taste, although why you would do such a thing to the beauty of tea (tarnishing it with your wicked milk) is beyond me.

You absolutely must serve biscuits at this point. If you don’t, you are liable to be shot on sight.

Play some jazz or classical music and enjoy.

Kole McRae is the writer behind Chilled Soda, a site devoted to the chill things in life.

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Trust me, photos of genes are even more boring.

Call it our guy version of “Eat, Pray, Love.”

Don’t Blame Your Genes

First up is a study by the UK’s Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, which found that exercise can improve the health of even those who are genetically predisposed to obesity. In the past it was assumed that many who are obese had no choice, that they were genetically “meant to be fat.” Of course, now that we (and by “we” I mean “scientists”) can actually look at your genes, it’s become harder to use them as an excuse:

The researchers analysed the genes of physically active and inactive volunteers, looking for one or more of 12 genetic markers known to increase BMI and risk of obesity. They calculated each participant’s overall genetic susceptibility by converting the number of obesity genes into a ‘genetic predisposition score’. The researchers then examined whether a higher ‘score’ was associated with a higher body mass index (BMI) and obesity risk. Those who had a physically active lifestyle dramatically reduced the impact of their obesity genes by an average of 40% compared to those who were sedentary.

Translation: it’s not hopeless. Get busy being healthy or get busy dyin’.

Don’t Forget to Pause

This one comes from the always-perceptive Leo Babauta of Zen Habits:

The noise of the world is a dull roar that pervades every second of your life. It’s a rush of activity, a drain on your energy, a pull on your attention, until you no longer have the energy to pay attention or take action.

It’s an illness, this noise, this rush. It can literally make us sick. We become stressed, depressed, fat, burnt out, slain by the slings and arrows of technology.

The cure is simple: it’s stillness.

I can’t tell you how strongly I recommend meditation, and the crazier your life is, the more you need it. Leo’s recommendation is to simply learn to be comfortable with stillness—just sitting quietly, not taking on any task or thought, just listening to your own breath and becoming comfortable with yourself.

The money quote in all of this: “It takes strength to find stillness when the world around us is a chaos of activity.” Be strong; be still.

Don’t Over-launder those Jeans

Finally, a well-done guide to maintaining your denim, courtesy of Valet. From brand-new shrink-to-fit Levi’s 501s to that favorite pair you dread one day finding threadbare and faded in the crotch, the Valet team walks you through the process of both making your pants fit right, and then keeping them healthy.

The kicker is their washing advice, which eschews (meaning “gives the finger to”) the washing machine entirely:

Fill the bath or sink with cold water (for least amount of shrinkage and indigo loss) or warm water for more shrinkage and fading. Add a small amount of a gentle soap….Let them soak for 45 to 60 minutes, occasionally agitating them by hand. … The less launderings you do, the longer your denim is likely to last, and the more individual character it will take on.

All that is assuming you don’t normally go commando, in which case it’s the washing machine, on hot. In fact, I don’t even want to be party to that. You’re on your own.

Have a great Labor Day weekend.

Regular exercise helps shed the genetic likelihood of obesity by forty percent [MRC Epidemiology Unit]

find stillness to cure the illness [Zen Habits]

How to Properly Clean Jeans [Valet]

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