Tea Travels

Tea Travels

In this article Liva Olina discusses how and why she started bringing tea with her when she traveled for work, which continued even during the pandemic. There are a lot of great reasons to bring tea with us when we travel, and Liva’s story left us feeling inspired to do so more often!


Tea Travels

I met tea for the first time while traveling, then I traveled for tea and now tea also travels with me. From something that I could experience only in faraway lands, tea has become a part of my life and helps to carry a feeling of home wherever I go. 

It all started in the Joshua Tree desert many moons ago with that very first life-changing bowl of tea in my hands. Every sip I took was guiding me deeper into my heart till I dissolved into the tea and the Universe. It was like receiving a big, loving hug that had been waiting there for me since before I was born. It was like coming home. Even though tea touched my deepest layers, I walked many miles to bring tea into my daily life. I didn’t think of serving tea to others or even myself. It was something I subconsciously related to spending time with one of my dear friends. I would literally cross half the planet to sit for tea with her in New York or in the jungles of Mexico, and she would do the same to visit me. For years, tea was something that I could experience only if one of us took that twelve-hour flight. Then one day she put a kettle in my hands, and I mindfully poured water over leaves for the very first time on my own. I flew home with a gifted almost empty Global Tea Hut jar of traditional oolong that was a jar full of new beginnings. And I have been trying to sit with tea every day since. Even when traveling, which is a big part of my job and family life, even in these crazy times, I still sit for tea every day. Perhaps I should rephrase that for the purpose of this article: I sit for tea especially when traveling! 

It was only later that I realized how essential tea had become to a moving lifestyle in which travel is a big part of my career. With the speed at which the world is spinning right now, and with the renewed possibility of moving between countries within hours, our bodies are often traveling faster than our souls. I believe that is what causes that feeling of confusion and emptiness when we arrive at a new place. And there is no better way to ground oneself and give time to fully arrive than raising a few bowls of tea. Daily tea ceremony as a ritual is familiar to us — it’s part of us, something we truly know. When everything else is new or changing, there is this centuries-old practice we can hold on to. It’s some- thing our body and mind recognizes, and it gives us a feeling of safety, a sense of belonging. 

I spend a few months a year changing hotel rooms every week. And just placing teaware out in the room makes the space feel cozier, more mine. It’s like taking a little piece of home on the road with me. Having tea with me feels like traveling with a dear friend. When I come “home” after a long day of work and feel like putting my head in a loved one’s lap or asking for a hug, tea is always there to listen, to warm my heart and calm my mind. Tea is a real friend that makes sure I am not lonely. I am sure many of you feel like you “know” a tea, and I mean some- thing beyond just remembering what it tastes like, smells like or even feels like. “I know that tea” means something more — something difficult to describe, like the familiarity we have with friends. And it is great to carry that feeling of friendliness with me when I travel.

Tea also inspires me to go out and look for spring water wherever I am — a quest that usually takes me out into Nature, to locations I wouldn’t normally end up visiting, and I therefore see more of the places I am working in. Getting outdoors is also good for my health and stress levels, of course. 

I am grateful for every bowl of tea I have shared on the road with people I have met. I hold you dearly in my heart: Yoyo from our sunrise tea at Tulum’s beach; Nitsa from our magical birthday tea for Greg, drinking his Galactivation Serum in Paris; all the beautiful people who woke up for an early morning tea in Portugal; and Ria and Romie in Berlin are some of the memories that stand out as I write this. As many of you know, tea has a magical ability to connect people instantly. We spend these bowls in silence together and yet feel like we have shared something so intimate, a feeling that connects us more strongly than a mountain of words spoken over many years. 

When it comes to the practical side of traveling with tea, I guess we all know it is possible to make nice tea on the road. Yes, it asks for some extra care when packing your luggage, but through taking care of tea and teaware, we are also taking care of ourselves. Besides all the teaware I have at home, I have a little infrared stove, a kettle, a teapot and two bowls in my second home, so I don’t need to carry pottery while traveling back and forth. And this is also the bare minimum I take on trips. When carefully wrapped, this all fits in a small carry-on suitcase. I always add a few fabric bags on top in case I need to fly in a small plane that asks to check cabin suitcases so that I can take everything fragile out. Tea also doesn’t like to be thrown around the airport, so I always keep that in my handbag. One extra bag while traveling may seem a lot, but the benefits are invaluable. Evaluating all of what makes me feel good while traveling and in my daily life in general, I have come to understand that it’s not really about the few pairs of shoes or some clothes that I am leaving home to take tea with me instead. It’s not just tea I am taking along; it is my daily practice, which is, of course, more valuable than extra clothes, especially if you travel often. 

A ceremony is just the small tip of a life with tea. We all know that once you start to discover tea, it slowly changes your diet, your habits, your aesthetics, and therefore the space around you, the way you treat Nature and the things you own. And traveling with tea allows you to carry that mindset wherever you go. You may organize your hotel room to have a clean space for a tea ceremony. You may bring flowers there from your search for the best water possible. And as I discovered this year while traveling in lockdown times, having a stove in your hotel room for tea will inspire you and give you a chance to eat cleaner and healthier food, especially when everything is closed and ordering fast food is the only other option. What started as cooking for myself became cooking for my colleagues, and I ended up showing one of them how different our body feels when we eat healthy and clean whole foods. He said he wouldn’t eat junk food ever again!


My heart goes out to all those who have suffered in the pandemic, though a big part of me is grateful for the world slowing down because it gave us all a chance to reflect on ourselves more. That’s the best gift I have received from an otherwise challenging situation. And even though tea always travels with me now, I would definitely travel for tea again. I hope to go on a Global Tea Hut Annual Trip soon or to visit a brand new Light Meets Life Center in Taiwan and meet you there. I’d also like to visit all of you and share tea. Until then, let’s not leave tea behind. Let’s enjoy the adventure mindfully and carefully together, meeting in the bowls we raise each day...



The article was first published in the Global Tea Hut magazine. It is published here with the permission of the author.

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