Why Pausing For Afternoon Tea Is My New Favorite Daily Habit

If my eight-year-old self could see me now, she’d be floored. 

I grew up having tea parties once a week. My best friend and I would wear crazy dresses, bring all our stuffed animals downstairs, and our mothers would prepare everything from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, to fancy food, to pancakes, to actual tea. 

As I grew up, tea held a big part of my heart. Sure, I need coffee to function, but tea is a treat that’s gotten me through years of work, theater, nights of writing, and every good book I’ve ever read. So, imagine my shock when I realized having an afternoon tea is actually good for you. 

Eight-year-old Markey really had life figured out. 

This week, I paused for afternoon tea every day, and it was fantastic. I have to admit, I had great plans for this week. I wanted to go all Great British Baking Show on you and prepare an elegant tea set-up, but then I realized that focusing on rest was the most important part of this week.

This challenge felt wonderfully similar to the silent breakfast challenge I did a few months ago. I still think about that challenge every day and have snuck in some silent breakfasts since then. I love intentionally pausing and reflecting throughout the day, and afternoon tea gave me another opportunity to do just that.

The Importance Of Afternoon Tea

If you’re anything like me, when you think of afternoon tea, you think of frilly dresses and big hats. Or maybe you love books and you think of Alice in Wonderland or Pride and Prejudice. While my afternoon tea sessions were not as grand as any of these conjured images, they did feel just as magical. 

Tea time is an honored tradition that has been kept for ages. The first person who paused for afternoon tea was the seventh Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Russell in 1840. During that time, people were eating dinner later and later because work ended when the sun went down. People would often sit down for dinner as late as 9 pm. The Duchess was having none of that and said she had a ‘sinking feeling.’ She began to request tea, bread, butter, and cake to be brought up to her room in the late afternoon. She would get lonely, so she began to invite her friends to join her. This created the social part of afternoon tea. In the 1880s, women began to make afternoon tea a social ritual. The long gowns, beautiful hats, and formal tea settings would come out during this time. Thus, the tradition of afternoon tea was born. 

Of course, cultures were drinking tea before the Duchess declared it fashionable, but the tea time we often think of (and that I modeled my week after) was born from this story. 

Many cultures take breaks in the afternoon. Spain has siestas, Italy has riposos, and England has afternoon tea. While taking a nap in the middle of the day might not be the best decision because it throws off your sleep cycle, it is smart to pause in the afternoon. Whether that pause gives you time to socialize, recenter yourself, catch up on your favorite show, or get active, it’s important that you don’t treat your body like it’s a robot and constantly blaze through all your tasks from the moment you wake up to when you go to bed. I really needed these pauses this week.

My Week

I started my tea break on a rainy day. Personally, I feel like rainy days are the best days to drink tea. While I’m going to have a different version of afternoon tea almost every day this week, I wanted to start off pretty basic. 

I poured my chai tea into my well-loved mug and sat down to read the library book I’d been avoiding for a week and a half. Suddenly, my very weary mind was more alert and I felt as though I had just woken up. 

I have to admit, when I sat down for a small break, I did debate doing a bit of work. It was three o’clock and I was winding down my workday and still had a few small tasks to do. But I stuck to the meaningful break and let myself have at least 10 minutes of quiet time with my tea. It was wonderful.

The second day, I settled in with my raspberry hot chocolate. Who says tea time has to include tea? Well, ‘tea’ is in the name, but I make my own rules. 

Today started as one of those days where resting felt more like a chore than a reward. I wasn’t sure if I would have time for my afternoon break, even though it would only really last for 10 minutes. I decided to snuggle on the couch with my cat and watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel until I felt more grounded and present. It was a sweet moment I don’t often get, just sitting down in the middle of the day with no worries and no agenda. It was a real blessing. 

I was talking to my partner later that evening and told him that my cat had fallen asleep during that time with his paws holding my hand. There was a moment where I thought, “Well, now I’m not allowed to get up!” And I think that was the biggest blessing. I often rush through life and downtime. I’m a doer and I love to always be moving and working. This week helped me see the value in being still and present for the things I might have missed otherwise. When I stay still and honor the part of me that is grateful for the rest and the moments that happen during it, my life improves, vastly.

The next day, I decided to make my tea time last a bit longer than it had the first two days. I boiled my chai tea concentrate over the stove instead of opting for a quick tea bag. Even though it was a small change in preparation, it was a wonderful addition to my break. I didn’t want to rush into rest but take my time getting accustomed to it. I also dipped my homemade focaccia bread into my everything bagel dip and was in absolute heaven. 

My day had been so hectic that I decided not to watch TV or even read during my tea time. I called my partner and caught up with him, then I texted a few people who I like to reach out to as much as possible. It was an anti-social-social tea party, and that is the dream. 

The next day, I opted for the chai concentrate again. I was feeling the mid-week slump that often hits me hard and I was hopeful that the tea would give me energy. While I am writing this with one eye open (and at 4:30, which is rough), I was happy to take my tea break today. 

I neglected my screens and grabbed my book again. It’s nice to get lost in a story and escape for a moment during the day.

I think my chai tea concentrate is broken because I felt tired after my last two tea times. I opted for a lighter tea today – Glazed Lemon Loaf by Tazo – (my favorite) and it did the trick. 

I both love and hate when I fall in love with my Markey Tries It ‘challenges’ and the week has ended. I’ve learned that I need to put my phone up because if I’m going to have a break, I’m going to have a break. I’m also learning to be okay in the silence. My days are often fueled by intense work and inner monologues. For some reason, they stop when I have my tea, and that brings me so much joy and bliss.  

On the second to last day, I reverted back to my raspberry hot chocolate. Today, I set no timer, I put my phone far away, and I even dimmed the lights. My week has been rather gloomy and the rain won’t stop. While that might not be the ideal weather situation most of the time, it was a perfect excuse for me to do nothing but relax. By the end of my break today, I felt so rested and rejuvenated. 

Today was the last day of the challenge and I’m already missing it (though I definitely won’t stop having afternoon tea anytime soon). I took my final cup of tea, the Glazed Lemon Loaf again, and spent my break thinking about how I’ve grown this week. Resting is uncomfortable. Putting everything away and giving yourself permission to ‘turn off’ for as long as you need isn’t natural anymore. We want to keep going and keep growing, but often, the only way to keep going is to rest.  I’ll definitely carry the lessons I’ve learned from pausing for tea with me after this week.

My Review

It was a treat to pause every day this week to take time to just sip my tea and relax. But it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. 

It’s hard for me to rest. It’s hard for a lot of us to rest. I was listening to a podcast that talked about rest and the host mentioned that rest in 2022 looks so different from rest in 2020, and even more so than rest in 2019. Our world has changed. If you’re like me, you’re ‘resting place’ or your home now doubles as your office. It’s hard to balance it all. 

The world has shifted so much, and while many people have become more aware of burnout culture and the need for a work/life balance, acknowledging that need and transforming our lives to fit that need are two different things. 

I don’t usually feel rested at home. I usually run around during the day to get things done. Working from home has forced me to work harder than I ever have to put boundaries on my life and accept that I need rest. 

This week, rest took the form of a cup of tea and a book about the lockdown (ironically). Next week, it might look like having a no-phone date night with my partner or a cuddle session with my kitty. Rest looks different for everyone. Rest is different for everyone.  

The biggest lesson my tea time has taught me is that nothing will crumble if you briefly put away your laptop and pick up a cup of tea. Work will still be there when you’re done. The world won’t stop spinning. People might even need you during that time. But your time spent working will be so much better and so much more productive when you’ve also spent time resting.


When was the last time you paused for afternoon tea? Are you going to now? Comment below!

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