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Watching Pots Boil

I have an electric tea kettle. And a stove top tea kettle. I moved back to NYC with neither kettle nor microwave, and as such, found myself hovering around my stove top each morning, waiting for the water to boil. At first, a couple people close to me were deeply concerned about the amount of tea I drink compared to how “tedious” it might be to make it. Instead, it became my favorite part of the day.


I fell into this routine effortlessly, filling the pot and putzing around the apartment doing morning chores. Sometimes, I’d put the bags or leaves directly into the pot and make a mega-cauldron of tea. Other times, I’d more rationally make tea for one and find myself delicately pouring the hot water over my sink. Or at least, it started gently. By the time I left the apartment, I was a pro at pouring boiling liquid out of the pot.


I think about this now, as I’m temporarily staying somewhere where my easiest option for making tea is a microwaved mug. And it’s fine. But I feel like I’ve lost the connection to this strange morning ritual. And that’s when I realized how beautiful and intentional my tea routine was for me.


It may not have been the most effective way to make tea. It may have occasionally led to some sloppy splashed burns. It may have even caused me to drink 3 cups of caffeinated tea some mornings (for me, a dangerous idea.) But it was mindful and it was calming (even the caffeine) and it was mine.


My friends always hound me on my consistency. Looking just at The Smile Project, I’ve been recording daily joys for over a decade. Routines and daily habits clearly mean a lot to me. But I think there’s something more to this. To go from making kettle tea for two to making stovetop tea for one. To hold onto something when something else fades.


There are easier ways to make tea. But it’s not really about the tea. It’s about the grounding presence of a routine that makes you feel safe, held, loved. Even if it's only you that offers those things.


Love always,

Liz