No phones, just tea

No phones, just tea
PHOTO: No phones, just tea

For many city folk, sitting in silence and being reflective is pretty unthinkable. Anthea Ong wants to change that.

She's the founder of Hush Tea Bar, whose aim is to promote the practice of embracing silence, while creating employment for the hearing impaired.

Ms Ong, 46, previously a managing director of a consulting group, set up Hush Tea Bar last year. She doesn't have a permanent space for her tea bar as yet, but instead, brings the experience to corporate offices, such as to banks.

Next Saturday, she will be holding workshops at The Working Capitol, so that the public can experience the tea bar as well.

"Hush Tea Bar came about because tea is associated with calming," says Ms Ong. "And I wanted to bring together the hearing impaired and the hearing world."

She has three hearing impaired staff who work with her on a project basis. "They are the TeaRistas," she says.

Each Rush to Hush session, is split into four sections. The first is the Intention Zone, where participants understand the social movement's mission, "To encourage silence and awareness for the modern/busy lifestyle and creating employment opportunities for the deaf in an inclusive and integrative environment," says Ms Ong.

Next, participants choose a blend of tea that they feel best represents their current or desired state of mind, from 12 tea blends made of flowers, herbs and fruit.

For example, there is the Freshly Tranquil blend which is made of mint, lemongrass, and lemon balm, or Positively Composed, made from lavender, rosehip and lime tree flowers.

"Participants interact with the TeaRistas, by picking up the tea leaves. Later, the TeaRista will identify the participant using the tea leaves and serve them the tea," explains Ms Ong.

She hopes to be able to teach participants to sign their desired tea blend in the future.

The next bit, Ms Ong quips, is the most difficult as they are have to surrender their mobile devices. "Some people ask if they can have their phones with them, but no, they cannot," she says.

At the next stage, TeaRistas will perform tea rituals using sign language, gestures or flash cards. Participants will then be served tea and they will do the tea rituals on their own as well.

After which, participants reflect and express their thoughts through what Ms Ong calls TeaArt. This is much like finger painting, but instead of using paint, participants draw using tea.

The session, which can last from about 30 to 45 minutes ends with participants sharing aloud their experience. This is also the time when they can purchase the tea blends, and create their own Hush moments at home if they wish.

About 50 people have signed up for the Rush to Hush Workshop. "This shows that people do want to have moments for reflection, where they can withdraw from the hectic pace of life," she says.

taysc@sph.com.sg

@TaySuanChiangBT

Rush to Hush is priced at S$38 per person, and it will be held at The Working Capitol at 1 Keong Saik Road, from 2pm to 7pm. To book a session, visit www.hushteabar.com/rush-to-hush


This article was first published on May 16, 2015.
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