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If there was ever a time to keep calm and drink tea, this is it…

One of the things that we try to prioritize at Covenant House Vancouver is the mental health and wellness of our young people. As a youth worker, one way of doing this is by engaging our youth in creative activities that allow them to take time out of their potentially hectic days to just pause…breathe…and focus on themselves.

Recently, I led a group of ten* in a tea making workshop. A handful of them had been speaking a little while back about the many types of tea and all their soothing properties. When I asked if they would be interested in learning how to make their own blends, they all expressed interest, so I collected a wide variety of tea types, dried flowers, fruit and herb.

I created a small document outlining each ingredient’s properties and potential benefits of use. The group listened intently as I gestured to the fresh chamomile and spoke of its ability to reduce anxiety and promote sleep. I pointed out each of the six tea bases before moving on to describe that to each of these bases they would add a selection of dried fruits and florals, citrus peels, even cocoa nibs.

Before long the table became a frenzy of hands reaching for lavender and hibiscus as one youth crushed up rosebuds for the group. “How much jasmine flower should I add?” someone questioned, as another gestured to his own bowl and asked if orange peel would be a complimentary flavor for osmanthus flower. A lovely floral aroma wafted through the common space as lo-fi beats played softly in the background.

After an hour, the group had concocted several impressive tea blends and handmade their own labels. One of them pointed out how meditative the experience had been and several of them expressed that they were thrilled to have found a new hobby. Many of them were eager to share their tea with others and offered to make each staff a cup of their new creation. “This is the best tea I have ever tasted!” one of our guys said, as he sipped away contently.

Shared by Desiree, Youth Worker at our Crisis Program

* This tea making workshop took place before social distancing was put into place. At Covenant House Vancouver, our role and responsibility during this time like anytime, is the health and well-being of young people experiencing homelessness. *