Keeping a Tea Diary

Diaries can have all sorts of purposes and, with the growing popularity of bullet journals, sketchbooks and gratitude diaries, their positive effects on mindfulness and mental health are widely promoted. To keep a journal in some form is a popular ambition but rarely seen beyond the first few pages, which is understandable; writing an entry every day can seem a daunting commitment. In this blog post I hope to show that this act of reflection doesn't have to take the "dear diary format" but can be a creative and positive part of your routine.

It is a well known stereotype that the British drink tea, and this is entirely true. We drink tea morning, noon and night, sometimes 5 times a day. We drink it at work, in the garden, on a train; meet new people over it, offer it to strangers, on good days and bad days and truly awful days. It is this that makes it the perfect companion to a diary, as the routine of regular tea and coffee breaks is already incorporated into our daily lives and associated with the ups and downs that that entails.

Intrigued? Put the kettle on and settle in.

Tea diaries can be filled in a variety of ways and mine tend to mix them all together. I started keeping an illustrated diary to aid my mental health. Some days, the umph to draw something or write about a bad day was just not there, so I would take my mug of tea and create a ring on the page, then write a few words with the date to represent how I was feeling. This method adds great visual intrigue, breaks up the text, and takes the pressure off. A diary kept this way could be something you do every morning or evening or even at regular intervals throughout the day. The same tactic can work equally well with tea packets or tags, stuck in and underlined with a small entry. Equally with all sorts of ephemera - pick scraps of paper, post cards, paint colour swatches that reflect your mood and stick them in with a few notes about what's going on inside your head, even if all you write is: "Today was bloody awful".

Painting a mug is one of my favourite pass-times and I usually set out to do so in the time it takes to drink my tea. In it's self, this is a really great exercise to create an illustrative still life and improve and explore observational drawing, but isn't limited to the realistic. Small thumbnail images of decorative teacups, line drawings and zendoodle styles would also work to fill your diary with tea based imagery. Don't even get me started on cake and biscuits. A quick glimpse of an illustratable and thoroughly delicious looking bake is all the excuse I need to stop at a cafe and purchase such a treat... for purely artistic purposes...

Bringing your diary to a cafe, where the soul purpose of the outing is to find tea and cake, is also a good exercise and achievable goal for anyone feeling a little down or anxious. The act of getting dressed and out the door might be small but is sometimes a big hurdle, especially considering the insular year we've all had. To go, eat cake, enjoy yourself, people watch and return home might be all you do of a morning, but that small act is a lovely, feel-good activity and perfect for when you just need to get out the house. Stick in your receipt or car park ticket for good measure or even print out a photo of your decadent hot chocolate. Whilst indoor cafes aren't open quite yet at the time of writing, this month will see a lot more outdoor refreshments consumed on picnic benches, hopefully in glorious spring sunshine, and fingers crossed, it won't be long until we can meet up for a natter over our ever present english mugs of tea.

I have only really touched on the possibilities of a Tea diary here but they are a wonderful concept with a lot of potential. It is a particularly good technique for those who are inspired by visual journals but not confident enough to start a sketchbook (although the truth is that a sketchbook, diary or journal can be anything you want or need it to be and I continue to see beautiful and inspiring books kept by people all over the world in all manner of ways, not to mention the amazing mix of pocket books and scientific manuals that have survived history). It's your diary; no one else has to see it and there are no rules. You can rip out pages you don't like, or cover things up, make every page beautiful, or fill the book with messy sketches and studies, splattered with ink and tea.

This is the first in a series of blog posts I plan to make on the subject of sketchbooks and ways to keep them. If you are interested in more, you can sign up to my newsletter to received monthly updates.

I hope you've found something to inspire or interest you in this blog post. I'd be delighted to see any work you've created, please tag me with @valerianstudio.

Ms Emma Leyfield currently trading as 'Valerian'. The copyright to all images and graphics used within this website are owned by Valerian, or Valerian has sought the appropriate permissions to use them.

Trademark number: UK00003464494

April Cottage, Kilcott Road, Hillesley, Wotton-Under-Edge, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom, GL12 7RJ