Tea Ritual – Green cabinet
During summer, I wouldn’t dare begin asserting my possessive love over Babylonstoren. My secret, brave the cold autumn mornings, collect freshly dropped eggs, listen to the donkey’s soft crunching chorus and embrace the vapor creating smiles of the Babylonstoren inhabitants.
Hameer and I arrived at 8am on a Tuesday morning, after paying a small entry fee (R10 per person for weekdays, R20 for weekends and public holidays) which goes to the Babylonstoren Trust, we strolled toward the reception area, where we would be guided to the newly opened Healing Garden.
We were greeted by one of Babylonstoren’s veterans, Constance. She was our: guide, teacher, harvester, trouble-shooter and tea expert.
*I won’t be sharing too much detail, I would be taking away from the incredible experience. If you have further questions, please do post them below.
The Healing Garden is located behind the beautiful greenhouse and ever popular morning breakfast spot. Walking in, you are greeted by a large bamboo hut, seating eight, soft water ripples ending in a pond with Garra rufa fish and a plethora of herbs. You are taken back by the tranquility exuded by the garden.
Before you begin, your tea expert will ask you of any, if at all, ailments you suffer from. I suffer from headaches and Hameer was recovering from esophagitis and is a stress pot. You then begin your search through the garden, with your expert, for herbs suiting your health goal (Ours were: stress relief, stomach pain, trouble sleeping and headaches). In total we had about 8-10 different herbs which would form part of our tea ritual . With each herb chosen your tea expert will fully explain its effects and potency.
The garden has been created with efficiency in mind, herbs at the top of the garden are aimed at upper body illnesses, the center of the garden targeting the digestive organs and herbs at the bottom of the garden, are aimed at the lower limbs.
We did most of our picking at the top end of the garden. Constance explained to us that we would be picking from the edges of each section, instead of the middle regions. Herbs located in the middle of a section are extremely powerful and may even induce poisoning. *Therefore, you will be accompanied by an expert at all times.
Twenty minutes later, our reed basket was green with life with our personal pickings and were ready to be enjoyed. It was as simple as placing your chosen herbs into a finely crafted hand made mug and adding hot water. Allow for infusion and enjoy.
Much privacy is given to you and your partner, you wont see many outside faces other than those in the ritual with you at the time. The area is quite, charming and challenging at times, for those whom are accustomed to the fast paced city life.
You are served 4 generous complimentary courses fit for you, your partner and for compost (I would not recommend a large breakfast). A highlight was, the green tea bread with cream cheese and fresh rapsberries-my mouth waters as I feel the raspberry pockets pop on my tongue
Tranquil, captivating, honest and bewildering. You pick the herbs noticing their dampness, bring them to your nose opening up scents long lost to routine life, placing bits on the tongue, tasting nostalgic notes likened to your grandmothers favorite hand cream, your ritual has begun.
Shoes off, you enter the bamboo structure where you sit on cushions, grounding yourself. From here, everything is done by you; you decide the type of tea you will enjoy first (You pick enough herbs for two teas per person). We enjoyed this part of the ritual the most as it allows you to engage with the herbs and prepare your own concoction, suited to your health needs. During this stage your expert will make you mindful of any possible interactions with certain herbs, you will not have to worry about any reactions.
We chose the 9:30am slot, we were the only pair visiting the tea garden for the ritual-it was only us and our thoughts. The only intermission occurring when you are graced by the complimentary foods; you soon forget how it was brought to you.
We enjoyed each others company and the calming effects of our tea, we could immediately see why it was important to teat these herbs with care as the effects are noticeable. It brought to light how our ancestors used herbs/teas as medicine and not a pastime.
*As previously mentioned, I will not be revealing everything about the tea ritual as it is truly something special. Please post your questions below.
The short: A generous 4 course meal, a personal herb expert whom helps you pick your specific herbs, a calming environment, a very affordable price (R290 per person) and a mature atmosphere brings a sense of relaxation. We would recommend this ritual for those wanting: a quick escape out of the city, to learn more about herbs and teas, an alternative approach to medicine and the perfect anniversary date (Did I mention is was extremely affordable?).