Not long ago, I discovered that “teatime” is one word. Why had I not known this?

I mean, I had said the words “tea” and “time” together countless times before, but I would have written it as “tea time.” I had even been practicing this lovely rhythm without having the proper linguistic understanding. There is no need for a space! These words are so intimately connected, they combine to create one simple—yet profound—unity.

Why is having discovered this reality so significant to me? It shows that the event “time for tea” is so important that it has its own term of designation. We don’t merely call a time one “for tea,” but just like typical markers of the day we use without blinking—morning, noon, afternoon, evening, etc.—teatime has a foundational, even a grounding, distinction.

Too many of us have lost sight of the practice of keeping teatime; we no longer see it as foundation, as grounding.

When I visited Africa in high school, we stopped working at 10:00 a.m. to wash our hands, come inside, and sit down to tea, snacks, and fellowship. On the weekend, now, I often sit down anywhere between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. for tea and a treat, as well as rich conversation—or at least space for such. During my workweek, I take a solo teatime around 9:30 a.m.

Such practices are deeply grounding. They root us in place as well as in time—in the present. In addition to providing opportunities to connect with others, they serve to help us to recenter, rest, and reflect.

What time is it? Well, I imagine it’s just about time for tea.


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