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Words By: Natalie Bunimovitz
Every night after dinner growing up, my family and I sat down for tea time. It’s a tradition with origins in Israeli tae nana, fostered by a desire to convene together after our disconnected days of work, school, dance rehearsals, and soccer practices. Tae nana is a brief moment to sit down, take a breath, catch up on our day, and, of course, drink some tea. When my brother and I visit for holidays and breaks today, the tradition still continues in the same kitchen it where it all began,
My abba (dad) was solely responsible for making the tea. Tea time at home was his way to connect with us. He’d grab mint leaves, sliver ginger, shave turmeric, and chop some lemongrass, measuring the ratios by eye. The herbs would go into the same glass teapot each night, swirling in the hot water. Tea was poured, cookies were grabbed, and tea time would begin.
As my brother and I got busier with school and homework and teenage lives, tea time served as an opportunity for a break. When I left for college, the need for a break grew exponentially. Rather than a kitchen table, I set up a little tea kettle in the corner of my dorm room, and while I could no longer sit down for fresh leaf tea with my parents, I continued to seek a break in bagged tea each night. Early into our relationship, I introduced my boyfriend to our tradition as well, and again it changed and grew. While studying in Hong Kong, he picked up some Chinese, and so tae nana also became hē chá. It became a way to wrap up our evening, often enjoyed in front of a movie or Netflix show.
My parents still have tea time every night, and routinely send me pictures of their same little glass teapot filled with whatever concoction of mint and other herbs my dad had created that night.
Tea time is a reminder to breathe, slow down, and connect with those you love. It's a chance to hydrate and get cozy; to reflect, and wind down. It is a recipe of nurturing childhood homes, growing traditions with new loves, and remembering what matters most.
A handful of fresh mint leaves (I grow mine in Miravel's Simple Garden)
A dash of ginger root, peeled and sliced
A smidge of turmeric root, peeled and sliced
A stem of lemongrass, sliced
A teaspoon of honey (if you fancy it)
Add ingredients to a teapot. Boil water and pour over the herbs. Let the tea steep for 3-5 minutes, until colored, or desired strength is reached. Enjoy with loved ones (either in person or in your heart).