Be a tea bag

In difficult times I am always reminded of Eleanor Roosevelt’s words on strong women:


A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it is in hot water.”


There are many ways to become strong and many hot water situations. The more hot water you get dunked unceremoniously into, the more it seems you can cope, building on the strength you built prior; like an elastic band, once stretched beyond it’s limits, it never goes back quite to how it was.


And with each hot water tea bag dousing I have had over the last few years, I have noticed there are a few phases:


  • The initial shock phase…before the hot water breaks through and into the tea leaves, holding your breath in surprise.
  • The brewing phase … as you sit and weep, become vulnerable, your resolve weaken as you let your insides out and infuse your surroundings.
  • The stirring phase… as you consider the options, subconsciously and consciously playing out the scenarios with mixed emotions.
  • The cooling phase .. as everything settles, reality is accepted, and then you can move on, take the next sips of life.
  • The releasing phase… as you move on, the feelings reduce, emotions drain away, until just a stronger tea bag is left.


I am in the stewing phase… or maybe in the stirring phase…  whatever – perhaps both. Swinging from one to the other.


I am concerned that I don’t want to stew too long; I could get bitter, cold and just a bit too dark for anyone to want.


Before that happens, it will be time to change the water. Throw the old dark, tepid, murky water out with the dishwater. Dive in to a new cup, change my surroundings, get out of the drama and wait and see what life will bring me… maybe some peace and quiet. Maybe more hot water?  Fear the only thing holding me back, fear of the unknown outcome.  Even though I know it is just tea!  It’s just life and I know I can handle whatever it has to throw at me… no matter how hot the water.


I know the key to being a strong tea bag is to take the lesson from each dunking into hot water. It is not always to just overcome it or survive it, and definitely not to let it drain you of your character, perfume… but to absorb the experience and build on it, take on a fuller flavour from the lesson.


But whatever happens in my current tea cup, I know and am honoured to be surrounded so many strong ‘tea bag’ women who tend to survive hot water, survive the stewing, the stirring, the waiting and go on to release and go forth again, wiser, tougher.


Strong tea bags tend to hang out together. They don’t need to whinge or whine or even gossip like weak tea bags. They know there is more to life. And, rather than preach, judge or give advice they show compassion, silent support but most of all they listen.  You can tell a strong tea bag from a weak one. It’s in their eyes; their pain, their quiet resolve, their softness in strength and dignity.


Above all, strong tea is meant to be enjoyed. And the strongest of which say they are much more pleasant with a ‘dash of sugar’, or a ‘splash of milk’ to soften the bitter taste, enrich the tones, smooth away any bitter notes.


And this tea bag, after 4 hours of yet another trip to A&E with Tom, is celebrating a clear bill of health for once and the end of a detox that has left me stronger, leaner, fitter, clearer and just part of the current tea bag event.






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