The Way I Was

Experience the Ritual of Tea at The Elephant Tea Room

Tea, ah, tea.
Tea, ah, tea.

Whoa! Slow Down. Because,

There is more to life than increasing its speed.  –Ghandi.

How to enjoy the tea ritual:

  1. Take time to read the extensive tea menu while considering your present needs and desires.
  2. Choose your tea: is this a day for a dreamy-tropical experience? something stamina-increasing? an exquisite-jasmine bouquet? mild-and-soothing-cinnamon? do you need happy-with-a-capital-H? cleansing? order up your choice of one dozens of tea experiences.
  3. When your lovely tea arrives in its glass pot with a miniature hourglass timer, wait while it steeps. The wait is good, let it cause you to contemplate beauty, time, transformations, and the healing properties of water.
  4. Pour your tea. Notice and discern: the aromas (herbal? blossomy? spicy?), the mouth feel (thin? chewy? dry? smooth?), and the taste (earthy? floral? vegetal? sweet? malty?);
  5. Be grateful that you have been present to engage in this fleeting moment, to fully experience this sensual journey.

***

A business man rushed in to The Elephant Tea Room in Pawtuxet Village, Rhode Island, and ordered a cup of tea to go. Forced to wait two minutes while the water boiled, he managed to notice the ambient music. He glanced around at the tranquil gray-green walls and the inviting padded brown wicker furniture, he connected with the place he was in, and began to notice the present moment.

When he received his to-go cup, instead of walking out the door he said to no one in particular, “Maybe I’ll sit down for a minute.”

And that’s what he did, while he quietly sipped his tea. Then he paid, and he said, “Thank you. Ten minutes in that chair was better than two hours in psychotherapy.”

***

The Elephant Tea Room designers and owners, Tony and Olga Lopez, want to provide you with an experience. Here, you can take a breath and detach from the bustle of daily living to focus on the calming energy of ritual.

Experience:

  • time slowed down;
  • tea (or coffee, or wholesome, inventive crepes and salads);
  • a mental journey into yourself;
  • a deeper connection with your family/friends;
  • tranquility;
  • an uplifting moment of simple pleasure.

All this for only $2.45 – $3.95 for hot tea, add roughly .25 for iced.

Extend your experience by ordering a crepe ($6-10) or salad ($7-10). I had the Brie crepe with green apple, tamarind and walnuts. Delicious! Tony has spent half of his life in Mexico, and that influence is subtly reflected in the signature items of his menu (mexican caramel and toasted almonts, tamarind, roasted poblano, chipotle…) Check out the full menu here.

The Elephant Tea Room opened in September of 2012 and has been so successful that Tony and Olga are planning on expanding sharing their tea experience soon at other Rhode Island locations.

For now, you can find them in the quaint Pawtuxet Village of Cranston at the corner of Broad and Sheldon Streets. (Tuesday – Thursday: 8 am – 8 pm; Friday – Saturday: 8 am – 10 pm; Sunday: 8 am – 3 pm;  Monday – closed.)
Next time you’re in the area, take a break and experience the ritual of tea at The Elephant Tea Room–
  • escape your routine, mundane habits;
  • stop focussing exclusively on efficiency and productivity;
  • remember to gaze at and appreciate this meaningful, valuable, beautiful present moment.
What rituals do you routinely incorporate into your life? What aids you in your quest to appreciate the present moment?
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25 thoughts on “Experience the Ritual of Tea at The Elephant Tea Room”

    1. So let me know when you’re going to be there, Annie, and I’ll meet you. It’s under five miles from where I live (the local joke is that we Rhode Islanders will only travel 5 miles to get to a restaurant. Farther than that, and they feel like they’re going on an extended journey).

    1. Cats ARE cool. Except they don’t allow them in Restaurants in Rhode Island. You’ll just have to get decorating tips from Tony. The whole place is his vision–sort of an installation art experience.

  1. Living in England has given me the appreciation of slowing down with a “cuppa.” I still serve myself a cup of a tea with milk. (The English pour their milk directly on a spoon before the milk touches the tea.) It really makes a difference!

    1. I’d forgotten how much I used to like certain teas with milk–(especially the Irish Breakfast). Now that I’m always looking for ways to fit a little extra calcium into my diet, I’m going to try it again. Thanks for the reminder!

      And I’m going to try pouring the milk over the spoon, to see what happens. I suppose it must take a bit of the chill off so it doesn’t cool the tea so much?

    1. I get that. There are places that, when I return to them, are so not the same because the people are missing. Reminds me of the song from Les Miserable (empty chairs at empty tables…) But that’s a sad memory.

      I’m glad you found a happy memory in this 🙂

  2. Tracy, it’s been years since I enjoyed a full “tea service,” and it didn’t have the miniature hourglass timers. But I did have a wonderful cinnamon-based tea that I’ve never found duplicated anywhere else.
    I also loved the story of the busy man who sat down and paced himself and enjoyed the tea. Even in my mother’s kitchen, where she boiled water and poured it over tea bags (and dropped in fresh mint leaves from her garden), there was something soothing and special and renewing about sitting around and sipping tea with family and friends. The entire afternoon leveled out and slowed down.

  3. What a delightful place, wish I could visit! Being English I drink several cups of tea a day, with milk of course. My daughter prefers green tea. There is nothing quite so nice as stopping, unwinding and making the most of a few moments of peace by relaxing with a lovely cup of tea 🙂

    1. The British have such a better understanding of the tea experience than we do, and of how important it is to stop to enjoy it.

      On an entirely side note– would you believe that it’s still forbidden, in Boston, Massachusetts, to tax tea? (goes way back to the start of the American Revolution, and the Boston Tea Party)!

  4. I cant remember the last time I drank tea. I have never heard of it does sound very calm and peaceful. I like to use what I call a quick meditation. It is similar to a deep mediation I do, not as often as I should though.It took my the better part of two years to learn and develop my own techniques for mediation. Once you do that a quick mediation can be achieved is about a minute or two.

  5. I love tea! 🙂
    I have to say that, since I am hard pressed finding decent espresso pretty much anywhere in NYC or CT (with very few exceptions), I have switched almost entirely to tea (harder to screw that up!)
    Thank you Nestle, however, for bringing Nespresso to the US! Now I can drink good espresso at home at least! 🙂

      1. Yes, Lavazza is one of the most popular brands even in Italy. Their espresso machines and capsules are okay but in my view not nearly as good as Nespresso.

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