There is a not so quiet revolution brewing all around us. If you’re a coffee drinker, you may not have even noticed. Tea is taking over, not only our imaginations, but it’s changing the retail landscape as well. Specialty tea shops are opening at a record pace, in response to growing demand.
Astute entrepreneurs are aware of the recent Agriculture Canada food-trends study, projecting that tea consumption will grow by 40 percent by 2020. That’s a lot of tea! This trend is confirmed by he U.S. Tea Association, as they saw a dramatic rise in imports in 2014, with total hot tea sales increasing more than 15% over the last 5 years. Impressive considering we’re in an economy where many industries aren’t faring so well.
This news is not too surprising to me, as I’ve always been a loyal tea only drinker. Coffee has never captured my palate, event though its aroma is often seductive. Although I’ve taken a sip on several occasions just to try it, I quickly return to tea.
Tea Has a Rich History
Tea is associated with great history and ceremony. After water, tea is the world’s most widely consumed beverage. Its origins date back to Chinese Emperor Shen Nung, 2737 B.C., where it is reported that a leaf from a nearby tree, blew into a pot of water he was boiling.
When I think of the descriptions associated with tea — steeped, infused, restorative, contemplative, inner peace and calm — I might be inclined to call it the yoga of hot drinks. In many ways, tea is the direct opposite of coffee.
Coffee is often linked to hectic schedules and energy rushes in the midst of stress-filled days. Tea is associated with comfort, slowing down the pace and with tradition and ritual. Coffee stimulates. Tea calms. While coffee disrupts sleep and can create an acid stomach, tea soothes and restores. Coffee is percolated and guzzled, providing a buzz. Tea is steeped then sipped, and can bring you back to your center.
Branding consultant Bruce Philp has explained that everyone can find a way to engage and introduce tea into their lives. “Tea is intimately social, it’s contemplative and the experience you have is enlightening. That’s rarefied air — I don’t think there are many other beverages that can compete.”
High tea offers a celebratory and refined experience. Afternoon tea offers an opportunity to take a moment out of our hectic day and relax. When we’re sick or melancholic, the comforting and consoling nature of tea is well-known.
Health Benefits of Tea
Tea is fast becoming a staple of the health conscious as well. Rich in antioxidants and providing a healthy boost to the cardiovascular system, it’s an ideal complement to today’s wellness movement. Specialty teas are even showing up in coffee shops across North America.
Green tea is perhaps the most popular, as its numerous health benefits have been widely reported in the last few years. Tea generally has a long and rich healing history in most cultures, with many herbal combinations available. Checking the names of some of the popular blends, you’ll see the wide range of health concerns they address. Sleep problems, weight loss, and stress relief are just a few.
There’s an ongoing debate about the caffeine content of coffee compared with that of tea. The Tea Advisory Panel reports that tea contains significantly less caffeine than coffee, containing one-third of the amount of caffeine when comparing cup for cup. Because tea contains approximately 99% water, it can be an important source of fluid to count towards your daily intake.
Tea and Brain Health
New research shows that the benefits of tea that improve biomarkers for reducing the risk of heart disease, may improve brain health as well. The antioxidants in tea may be one way to help protect brain cells from environmental insults from free radicals. L-theanine in tea has been shown to directly affect areas of the brain that control attention and ability to solve complex problems.
A recently published long-term study of nearly 30,000 adults found that drinking three or more cups of tea per day was associated with a 69% reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Research presented at the 2007 Scientific Symposium on Tea and Health, showed that theanine, an amino acid that is for the most part uniquely found in tea (green and black), may help prevent age-related memory decline.
Tea and Reduced Risk of Osteoporosis
Although high caffeine intake has been suggested to be a risk factor for reduced bone mineral density (BMD), drinking tea has been linked to higher bone mineral density (BMD) and has been shown to boost bone-building markers and improve muscle mass. Both of these may reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fracture.
Compared to non-tea drinkers, tea drinkers have been found to have a higher BMD. Research suggests that polyphenols in green tea may help improve bone quality and strength. One study found that drinking tea was associated with a 30 percent reduced risk in hip fractures among men and women 50 years of age or older.
All Tea is Not Created Equal
All tea is not created equal. Black, green, oolong and white teas are derived from the leaves of the evergreen shrub, Camellia sinensis. Herbal teas are created from herbs and spices. The most popular growth in retail tea shops is in the loose-leaf category, where consumers purchase their teas to take home and brew. The range of varieties available is quite impressive.
How do you create your own perfect cup of tea? Use a teapot which you have rinsed out first with warm or hot water. Start with fresh cold water and bring to a rolling boil. For the best cup of tea, don’t add the bag or leaves to a pot of boiled water, but pour your boiled water over the leaves or tea bags.
A good ratio is one teaspoon of tea to four ounces of water. Steep black and herbal teas for five minutes. Green and oolong, three to four. Apparently, serious tea drinkers only add a touch of milk to their cup. Must be the rebel in me, as I choose to use organic cream (cream is generally a no-no) and much more than a touch. Especially as new research shows that full-fat dairy can help maintain weight and reduce the risk of diabetes too.
Tea has become an important part of my daily ritual. My passion for walking now includes a purposeful walk each morning to my neighbourhood Starbucks, where I patiently wait. Not to order some complicated morning coffee, but to stand in line, quietly anticipating my daily cup of tea. Make mine a Chai. In India, Chai means tea. Mine is a venté with one loose-leaf filter bag of organic black tea, perfectly blended with delicate and exotic spices, topped with steamed cream. Who would choose coffee with this rich treat available to start your day?
Seems I’m not alone, as many confirmed coffee lovers now indulge in Chai. I leave the shop to finish my walk, sipping my cup of Chai. I feel in harmony with my surroundings, in a state of peaceful inner calm. All this, from a simple cup of tea.
Tea as a Healthy Lifestyle Choice
As I wrote about in my post, Health is Truly a Matter of Choice(s), tea is a healthy lifestyle choice. As a Health and Vitality Consultant, I see how even simple changes can make a huge difference in how people feel. I’ll work with you to prepare a personal Health Plan to address your health concerns.
It’s easy to get started. Simply start with the True Health Assessment which only takes 10 minutes. You’ll receive a personalized report in three sections. The first identifies your top health risk factors. The second maps out a recommended lifestyle plan that identifies ways you can improve your health. The third provides you with individualized nutrition recommendations based on your specific assessment answers. After this, we’ll set up a time to talk. Wishing you good health and your favourite cup of…
So, which one appeals to your palate — tea or coffee?