Singapore’s first and only silent tea bar, Hush TeaBar is on a mission to integrate hearing-impaired individuals into society as ‘TeaRistas’.
With no physical shop space, Hush TeaBar is an on-wheels, on-demand tea ‘bar’ that presents another dimension of tea—an instrument in conducting mental wellness workshops. What’s even more unique, the ones conducting the programs are hearing-impaired individuals and those who have or are in-recovery from mental health issues, who encourage participants to cherish the quiet moments and embrace the stillness of life.
A strong advocate for mental health in society, Anthea Ong founded Hush TeaBar based on her admiration for the hearing-impaired for their tenacity in society and belief that silence can be powerful in the often noisy and cluttered world we live in. By providing participants with ear plugs for the workshops to facilitate a silent environment, Ong hoped to challenge the notion of disabilities by fully immersing the participants into the world of the hearing-impaired to create an equal platform for everyone there.
Known for being an effective stress reliever, tea was the ideal choice for the initiative. Through quiet respites, tea appreciation allows one to refocus on the relationship with the self and into a journey of peace and awareness, and this is what Hush TeaBar desires for all their participants to experience through their programs.
EXPRESSION THROUGH TEA
Hush TeaBar utilises five teas, or TeaMoods. Sourced organically from Sri Lanka and blended in-house, each TeaMood represents different feelings that participants can choose to focus on. The teas were crafted in conjunction with five TeaRistas who tell their stories through the blends. Their stories speak of overcoming the challenges attached to being hearing impaired and learning to embrace it.
Delectably Robust, a spiced rooibos tea, tells the story of appreciating life’s bittersweet moments, and how it can be equally robust and fulfilling even if one is lacking in certain aspects compared to his peers.
A lemongrass and ginger tea, Freshly Tranquil was built on the nostalgic memories of a carefree childhood, when one’s shortcomings did not matter as much. The TeaRistas hope that people who choose this tea would also learn to relax and momentarily release themselves from their struggles.
Sweetly Intimate, a rosehip and hibiscus tea, reflects on the relationship with our families, and the floral Simply Romantic reminisces romantic relationships, and how they can still blossom despite the insecurities one may initially face.
Last but not least, Undoubtedly Quirky, a fruit tea, was created after a TeaRista’s chance encounter with a quirky taxi driver who entertained her with all his gadgets in the taxi and attempts to communicate with her through signing, which she greatly appreciated.
THE HUSH EXPERIENCE
Hush TeaBar offers catered programs for corporate settings, youths and teachers, and they occasionally also have community sessions—which has moved online for the time being.
The experience comprises four zones, Intention, Hush, Expression and Sharing, that provides a sensorial and therapeutic journey for participants and is guided by the TeaRistas who use sign language, gestures and flash cards to communicate.
The program starts with an invitation to set their intentions by choosing a TeaMood that stands for the main feeling they would like to embrace throughout the session. And, of course, the space is a strict no-screen zone to remove all distractions.
The second zone will teach participants different methods of silence, and is a time for them to connect with themselves on a deeper level while carefully sipping on their beverage of choice. During the process, questions will be asked that help to tune participants with their emotions and promote mental wellness.
The third zone sees tea being used in an avenue other than as a beverage, where different extracts of tea are brewed more concentratedly so that it can be used as dyes for the tea art participants are asked to create. With a blank canvas, participants are free to express their creativity. In this zone, participants will also write notes of encouragement for future Hush experience participants, in a pass-it-on concept.
Finally, participants will discuss and share their session experiences in the fourth zone.
SHARING THE HUSH IMPACT
Through a better understanding of sign language, TeaRista Low Kok Wah believes that more meaningful communication can and should be created in society. Moving forward, the team at Hush TeaBar hopes that their initiatives will promote more empathy in workplaces, a culture of self-care to aid in stress and mental burnouts and that more people will learn to celebrate silence as a place that can nurture and heal.
For more information, please visit hushteabar.com