For Baelyn Elspeth, the heart of life is connecting with others. Dedicated to learning the art of cultivating space and time, she’s a student of tea ceremonies, adventure, fashion, art, inspiration, spirituality, and love. Writing to us from Bali, amid tea filled days of rejuvenation and exploration, Baelyn holds a hopeful tenderness for purity and honesty without expectation. It’s no wonder she has such an affinity for sweet lines and flowing hems.
Story and Interview by Miwa Sakamoto
What can you tell us about tea ceremonies?
They’re a space to slow down and experience the present moment. Guest and host show up, each with an open heart, and pay equal respect and honor to one another. It’s a conduit for conscious conversation and connection between people. In this day and age, it’s rare for anyone to pause, but if we slow down and are present, it deepends our awareness of the Self, allowing us to experience the present moment more fully. This ultimately leads to more joy, compassion, and love. For me, tea isn’t something to believe in, it’s something to experience. When we’re together, it’s a tangible thing I can offer you and, though you might not want a bowl of tea, you can’t disagree with it! My teacher says, “You can put people of different faiths into a room and, if they talk about their beliefs, they will come out arguing. But, if they go into that room and drink tea together, potentially they come out brothers.”
Loose Leaf v. Tea Bags
Organic’s more important than anything. Even if a tea’s loose leaf, farmer’s may still be spraying their trees, using chemicals in their soil, and growing a no good product. If you’re sitting at your computer drinking a mug of tea, organic bagged tea is better than no tea. For ceremonies, you want a clean and living tea. In the space of a ceremony, the tea’s used more as a plant medicine so you want to use teas that have been rolled and processed to maintain the integrity of the leaf. You’ll now have a living plant and the opportunity to set aside time to sit with it, honoring your connection to nature.
And what connects us?
The earth, sun, moon and stars. Mountains, Rivers, Forests. The Ocean. Animals and Plants. Humans. We are the natural world. There is no separation between “us” and “it.” When we get lost in the illusion of separation, that’s when the trouble starts. Everything’s made up of the Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. I am the rose and you are the mountain. You are me, and I am you.
What’s your favorite kind of tea?
The tea that I am drinking right now.
Do different kinds of tea have different uses?
Here in the west, we don’t make the distinction between Tea and Herbs that are steeped and drunk, we call all of it Tea. But, there is an actual species called the Tea Tree. Camilia Sinensis is an adaptogen, meaning it flows wherever needed. Teas like puerhs and blacks, are more warming, earthy, and grounding whereas oolongs and greens are lighter, cooling, and tend to have a more upward energy.
What’s your energy and style?
Fun, comfortable, and feminine. I love vintage dresses, tunics, slips, soft cozy shawls, blankets, and wraps, Southwestern / native prints, crystals and other earth minerals.
Yes, vintage, almost all the time. I like participating in the re-use and recycling of things. Using something that has had life before me and will have life after me if I take care of it. It is a reminder that nothing is truly “mine”. Just borrowing for a little while and then passing on. When I was younger, I never wore dresses at all, but in the past 8 years that has changed quite a bit. Now I live in them. I enjoy the femininity they invoke. I also love my legs being free, it allows me to feel my connection to the earth directly through my body. Loose, flowing, feminine cuts in yummy soft fabrics are my fav.
What inspires you?
You. At the moment I’m reading Love and Death in Bali by Vicki Baum, Wild Feminine by Tami Lynn Kent, and No Time to Lose by Pema Chodron. I’m listening to Indian Ragas. Feeding and playing with my animals. Singing. Drumming. Riding my bike, jumping in the ocean, dancing. A good sweat. Spending time with those near and dear to me.
If you made a tea starter kit, what’d it have?
Leaves (organic of course), a bowl, and hot water.