As a constant tea drinker and advocate, I know why I drink tea. I even joined the Tea Club here at SFU in order to share this love of tea with people who love it as much as I do. However, if you were to tell me that tea is just water flavoured with a bag of dried leaves, I would probably agree with you. Because that’s what it is.
So why do I, and so many people, drink tea like it’s from heaven?
It’s because tea isn’t just a beverage that gives you a caffeine hit. Along with its colonial and medicinal history comes a unique experience that a tea-drinker won’t find with any other beverage in hand.
It is true that tea has been consumed as a beverage by people for centuries, since its origins as a medicinal drink from China during the Shang Dynasty. However, it was the British who popularized tea production as a business venture.
This drink has a history associated with being a tonic with medicinal properties, which holds true today, as it’s proven to be the best for your health and well-being. Green tea has antioxidants that may interfere with the growth of many cancers, and prevent neurological disorders. Black tea may help protect lungs from damage caused by cigarette smoke, and reduce the risk of strokes. Other teas like Oolong and Pu-erh are associated with lower fat and cholesterol, and healthy organs.
Now, with 21st century soft drinks like vitamin water and energy drinks, it doesn’t seem reasonable to drink tea anymore. It no longer just competes with coffee, but also with sugary cool drinks that sell for less. Why would anyone spend $3.25 for a cup of earl grey when you can easily buy two bottles of pop without waiting in line?
Economically, it doesn’t make sense for me to continue supporting tea makers, to buy tea brands like David’s Tea, or to drink tea as regularly as I do. Other tea lovers will argue that it is likely far less processed than the other drinks, that it already has a greater flavour variety compared to other drinks, or that it doesn’t contribute to excess sugars in your body. But I don’t drink it for any of those reasons, either. I am not a drink purist; I love myself a good sugary carbonated beverage once in a while, too.
But I have to drink tea. And there is one reason for that: the experience. I drink it for the feeling of relaxation and contentment, and I ask others to drink it so that they can relax with me too. In knowing that I’m downing a cup of something that’s been around for centuries, I feel like I contribute my piece in the continuation of the drink’s history. The satisfaction is more psychological or spiritual than it is physical. As a university student, who can deny a little historical relaxation in a cup?
Find a tea you like, let it heal your body, hurt your wallet a little, but ultimately soothe your soul.