Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lessons from the tea leaves

Browsing the health food shop in Manly yesterday during one of my err… ‘coffee breaks’ I was drawn towards a blue box containing something called Ayurvedic Cooling Pitta Tea. Being, what the ayurvedic sciences know as a pitta constitution, and a bit of a (excuse the pun…) mug for interesting teas, I swiftly bought some and fired up the kettle when I got home.

Magic tea?

Okay… I’m just going to interrupt my story for a second. For those of you unfamiliar with the Eastern science of ayurveda, the five basic elements - so that’s ether, air, fire, water and earth - manifest in the human body or constitution as three ‘doshas’, which are known as pitta dosha, vata dosha and kapha dosha. We all have elements of at least one dosha and many of us have aspects of two or three. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘the science of life’ and, crudely put, the principle behind this ancient science is to heal our selves by balancing our doshas. Ayurveda has been practiced in India for 5000 years so naturally when I was there recently, I took myself off to the Ayurvedic Hut at Purple Valley to get my doshas tested by an expert... the Ayurvedic doctor.

The hut at Purple Valley

So Doc started off by asking me a few questions about my digestion (aherm, not fantastic); how I respond to problems (I get angry, goddammit); and my dreams (ever since I was a kid had nightmares about my house burning down to the extent where I kept a bag of my favourite things by the bed so I could make a swift exit!) Then after delving into these and other, clearly revealing, stories she examined my tongue and nails and took my pulse, before confirming that I’m primarily pitta (fire) with some vata (air) and should avoid meat, alcohol, tomatoes(!) and chilli (no WAY!) to increase my earth and water (or kapha) elements. Great, that’s gonna be easy then.

So, back to the tea. Now because us pittas have this fire issue, as you’d expect we can get rather hot headed and lose our rag somewhat. So to prevent this from happening to what was fast becoming one of my favourite days of early retirement, I thought I’d better get some of this nice cooling tea down me, pronto. Well to my surprise and delight, on the sleeve of each tea bag were some words of advice for us pittas:

Now I like the sound of that, so I resolved to spend the afternoon following this sage advice. I’d had a pretty busy (but awesome) day already and was teaching in the evening at Lululemon, so I thought: that’s it, today I am gonna laugh and play. If I do any more on the computer at all this afternoon I’m in grave danger of overworking, so I’ll play it safe, have a chilled, relaxing afternoon; whilst trying my best to avoid stimulants.

So, I had finally settled myself for a Thursday afternoon the sofa (ahh the joys of retirement!), with my Cooling Pitta Tea and some light reading (If you're interested I’ve started to read the seminal Ashtanga text by Pattabhi Jois called Yoga Mala – which is interesting but not exactly laugh and play material. But never mind, three out of four isn’t so bad). Well the irony was not lost on me as I enthusiastically took my first sip... OUCH!… Man, I didn’t add cool water to the top and now I’ve got cactus tongue! Dear me, I’ve gone and burnt my tongue on my 'cooling' tea.

I really think there should have been a warning on the side of this tea. Us pittas have a tendency to rush things, to try to do too much (hence our need to practice moderation) and we need to just slow it all down a touch. It was a valuable lesson for me however, as luckily the tea seemed to have had some medicinal properties. It's taken less than a burnt tongue to turn me into a raging, red faced pitta in the past I can tell you (as can my husband). So who knows, whether it was my fantastic day, or the tea... I can honestly say I took it all in my stride, and laughed (and played) it off.


  1. When I was a student I once burnt my hand on the oven while cooking a frozen pizza. I wrote and complained and they sent me £10 of pizza vouchers. Every cloud has a silverside lining!

  2. Good word play there Vicster! I'm interested as to how you managed to persuade the pizza company it was their fault though :)..? Thanks for reading!