Tea is packed full of antioxidants, reduces the risk of heart attacks and cancers, helps with digestion, helps you lose weight and so on and so forth. How many times have you heard any of these? How many times have people tried selling you tea by stating all the magical health benefits to you? The fact of the matter is, although tea may have health properties (it certainly is healthier for you than drinking Coke), it isn't a miracle elixir that prevents all major human diseases.
People ask us all the time – "What health benefits are in tea?" I usually say something along the lines of – it's not a miracle drink that'll solve all your problems, but it certainly is better for you than drinking soft drinks!" I get a funny look then the person turns around and walks away.
Sure it's healthy but...
Tea is healthy so why not promote it as such? Because I think it is so much more than that.
It's both simple and complex at the same time. All tea (real tea that is) comes from one plant – camellia sinensis – and from there, you get the six main varieties of tea, each with a countless number of sub-varieties and in some cases, sub-sub-varieties. There's the element of terroir and how the soil or unique aspects of a place can affect the flavour of the tea. There's the expert skill involved in producing the tea. All of this goes into creating a unique flavour profile and experience for each tea.
A lot of skill, effort and hard work goes into making the teas you drink
And then there's you, the tea brewer. Do you like your tea subtle or strong? Are you in a hurry or do you have time to sit and slowly appreciate all the complex subtleties of your tea? When all that's said and done, there's the resulting taste and flavour. So many flavours, so much depth. All these different variables go into a simple cup (or pot) of tea. Pretty amazing isn't it? This is what real tea is all about and the possibilities are endless. I think the people selling tea just on perceived health benefits alone are doing a great disservice to the industry – that or it's because the tea that they're selling is of low quality and has no subtle complexities or characteristics worth noting.
Great in its own right
Tea can be as complex a subject as coffee or wine – some would say even more so. Yet nobody who's looking to buy coffee or wine stops and asks the vendor – "what are the health benefits of coffee/wine?" So why ask this about tea? It's not a miracle elixir. Sure, it does have antioxidants, it can help with digestion (which is why Chinese people love having tea with their meals) but the experience of great quality, loose leaf tea is so much more than that.
As we continue to share with the world the teas that we find, we hope also to add to the discourse surrounding tea and help move it from being one about health properties to one more about the appreciation and experience of tea.