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Finding the Intersection of Zen and Productivity

The Beauty and Boost of Matcha Tea

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Finding peace in a fast-paced LA law firm may seem like an oxymoron, but I’ll go one step further. Said tranquility came courtesy of my extremely productive high billable hours boss. None of this makes sense, right?

Well there I was in the staff kitchen getting coffee when my boss strolls up to add hot water to some concoction in his mug. In a throwaway comment, I asked if that was his tea, after which he told me it was not just any tea – it was matcha tea. When he saw the dismissive look on my face, he said “Mary, you don’t know about matcha tea?!” As the resident vegan runner of the 22nd floor, I am known as the health aficionado, so he was shocked when I didn’t demonstrate the proper amount of reverence at the word “matcha”. The truth is, like most coffee drinkers, you kind of don’t pay too much mind to tea. Tea is cute, but let’s be real, I had just spent time on a coffee farm in Colombia, so tea…meh.

My boss then went on to explain all the benefits of matcha tea. Hmmm, now he had my interest piqued. I am always looking for the Next Big Health Thing. Listen, I am the same person who spent $25 on a jar of coconut yogurt because I wanted maximum gut health. Anyway, here’s the short list of the pros of matcha tea that got my attention:

  • packed with antioxidants including the powerful EGCg
  • Detoxifies effectively and naturally
  • Enhances mood and aids in concentration

OK, I’m definitely listening. But then this dude clinched it when he (1) mentioned special “high grade” and (2) whipped out a bamboo whisk. I am a sucker for exclusivity and accessories. My boss proceeds to walk me through his entire matcha routine: from using special ceremonial grade matcha (swoon) that he spoons out with a special bamboo scoop (what?!), to the whisking 30 times (you can YouTube videos on proper whisking technique), to the special ceramic whisk stand (IKR?!?), to the finishing touch: White Gold Raw Honey. This honey is also an antioxidant powerhouse and contains phytonutrients which have anti-inflammatory benefits which helps recovery for runners. But honestly he had me at “gold.”

Obviously I love the pomp and circumstance of ritual. But the hook was the promise of increased focus leading to high productivity and goal attainment. That, friends, is my very legal drug of choice. I am a stereotypical Type-A high-achieving Asian, and the idea of Accomplishing More will usually get my heart racing. Having worked with my boss for over two decades, I have never met anyone so focused and productive; this man can review and analyze complex transaction documents for significant blocks of time without a break. If this green powder was his secret weapon, I was in.

But a funny thing happened on my quest to that apex of productivity and getting more done — I actually found this quiet space in my day. Somewhere between using that delicate bamboo spoon to carefully scoop out this uber-refined bright green powder, hearing hot water pour over it, and then meditatively whisking for 30 seconds…well, I experienced this *pause* in my afternoon. Things slowed down for a brief period of time, and I could catch a breath and just sip my tea. The taste is subtle and soothing and just sweet enough to count almost count as dessert.

When I went back to work I did so with better focus and energy but without the jitters or high-highs of coffee. To be honest, though, I couldn’t tell you what helped more — the matcha tea or the matcha tea ceremony. As has happened several times in my life, I have found gifts along the way to my goal that turned out to be better than the goal itself. Whether it’s the green drink or the whisking of the green drink, what a wonderful surprise to find that moment of space and peace in the middle of the work day.

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