Andrea Comiskey Lawse
Founder and Chief Tea Artisan
I owe many things to my great-grandmother Rosalia, and one of them is to never underestimate the importance and power of a cup of tea. When I turned five, great-grandma figured I was old enough to be included in the hot beverage rounds with the other adults in my family as they sat around the table and chatted. I soon began to equate sweet, creamy tea with relaxed conversation, listening, and a deep sense of connection and belonging. I witnessed my mother, grandmother, and aunts share their joys, frustrations, failures, and triumphs together with a warm beverage in hand.
Tea-drinking stayed with me. As I got older, I discovered that my own moments of solitude, contemplation, and study, or those moments spent staring out a window on a rainy spring day--were made infinitely better, complete, even, by a cup of tea. Indeed, the very act of preparing tea became a ritual-like process for me by the time I was sixteen; and when I went off to college, my dorm-room was soon transformed into a small café. I was determined to perfect the art of the hot beverage, because for me, the perfect cuppa could make all the difference in my ability to dig deep and find my inspiration to complete a creative project, or draw in a friend and help them feel welcome, at ease, and free to speak his or her mind. I'm pretty sure it was the countless cups of precisely crafted tea that got me through my Masters work at Creighton and later, my Doctoral studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln—not simply because of the caffeine, but because they provided a grounding energy, a reassurance and comfort, a point of focus, and more and more--as my knowledge of plants grew--an opportunity for both physical and emotional clarity, nourishment, and rejuvenation.
All of this consumption of tea paired with my life-long interest in holistic medicine compelled me--right in the middle of my doctoral work--to begin a simultaneous study of Traditional Western Herbalism. My intellectual interest in plants and culture was growing into an overwhelming desire to experience them directly; so, I began a three and a half-year program of intensive herbal study, and graduated in 2014 as a Clinical Herbalist.
That three and a half-year period of time was transformational. Plant medicine became part of my daily life, and the constant use herbs for healing began to alter both the way I perceived plants and the way I related with them. It felt like something deep and ancient began to awaken inside of me—maybe the part of my DNA that I, like all humans, share with plants, was stirring and activating. I went from a somewhat distanced aesthetic appreciation (and sometimes even fear) of the vegetal, to a feeling of overwhelming desire to interact with it: to plant, nurture, harvest, taste, closely observe, talk to, touch, smell, and understand plants. I also began to understand something which I now believe is of the utmost importance: our relationship with plants matters greatly.
For years, I have been studying the historic and contemporary relationships between humans and the natural world in the hope of understanding how we have come to such an environmental crisis. Countless scholars, scientists, writers, and thinkers have proven that the human species has become increasingly disengaged with the natural world, and that this disengagement is the root cause of many of our personal, social, and global ailments. Many of these thinkers propose solutions for re-engagement—some try to scare us into caring for the planet and other species; some try to reassure us by claiming that we don’t need to change our consumption, just our production and waste cycles—that we can save the planet while creating a robust capitalism based on cradle-to-cradle economics (an economics driven by zero waste), and still others appeal to our emotional attachment to animals—illustrating to us in often heart-breaking detail the extreme danger of extinction many species worldwide currently face.
What plants have taught me, however (and I promise this has everything to do with your cup of Artemis Teas), is that if we heal our relationship with plants—truly and deeply—we will begin to care about nature again, treating it not simply as the backdrop of our daily existence, but as the very source of our existence and vitality. This change in perspective will help bring healing to our own bodies and minds, as well as to the planet. Every plant is a teacher. An ally. A bridge.
So how do we do this? How do we begin the important work of changing our perspectives, and healing the relationship between plants and people?
I think it starts by rediscovering plants as medicine; by re-learning that plants are our co-evolutionary allies. We’ve evolved with and among them, and we are not designed to be separate from them. Since one of the best ways of establishing connection and building relationship, Great Grandma Rosalia taught me, is by sharing a warm beverage together, I have come to realize that tea-drinking may be one of the most important opportunities we each have on a daily basis to reconnect not only with ourselves and each other, but also with plants and the natural world. With tea, we are given the opportunity to mindfully smell, taste, consume, and experience a large and vibrant spectrum of plants. Unlike coffee, we drink tea in our quieter moments of contemplation and stillness, as well as during meaningful moments of connection with others. While many of us drink coffee to stimulate ourselves, to increase our output and capacity for multi-tasking, or to keep ourselves awake, we typically drink tea for the opposite effects: to relax and unwind, to nourish ourselves, and to encourage the awakening of our inner awareness and wisdom.
Artemis Teas invite you to re-imagine the possibilities of tea-drinking as an opportunity for reconnection and healing, as well as an opportunity to delight in the experience of the aromas, subtle and complex tastes, textures, and colors of the herbs in each carefully-crafted cup of tea.
I believe that we can change the world when we learn to consume mindfully, with purpose, gratitude, and delight.
Enjoy your tea!
Founder and Chief Tea Artisan