For those of us who weren’t raised in a tea-drinking household, it can sometimes seem odd just how devoted people are to their morning “cupper.”
There is no doubt that people really like tea. In fact, tea is the second-most popular beverage in the world after water. In 2020, 289 billion liters of tea were consumed around the world!
Different cultures are particularly connected to different varieties of tea and have specific ways to drink them.
We all know the British are fond of a malty, earthy English Breakfast tea (a blend of Assam and Ceylon black tea leaves), served with milk.
The Japanese, on the other hand, prefer sencha or genmaicha green tea. The Chinese are known for their delectable, aromatic white teas.
That said, there are more reasons to drink tea than just cultural custom!
Why do people like tea?
Like coffee, tea contains caffeine and is an energy-boosting stimulant. Tea also has many health benefits. There are also social reasons to drink tea, such as sharing a cup with a friend or participating in a traditional tea ceremony. And of course, many people drink tea because they like how it tastes!
1. The health benefits of tea
Many people choose to drink tea because it is remarkably healthy.
Tea is naturally a low-calorie beverage, and it is lower in caffeine than coffee.
Many health-conscious people are happy to have something delicious to drink that doesn’t add too many calories to their daily intake.
Those looking to cut down on caffeine may opt for tea instead of coffee in the morning.
Herbal infusions, while not technically made using tea leaves, can also be exceptionally good for health.
Detoxifying dried herbs and flowers, such as nettles, mint, chamomile, and lavender, are known to help with all manner of ailments, including everything from aiding digestion to encouraging sleep.
The leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, from which all of the five major tea varieties (black, green, white, oolong, and pu’erh) are produced, are rich in antioxidants called flavonoids.
Studies suggest that flavonoids may help reduce the risk of chronic heart disease, stroke, and possible even cancer.
There is even evidence that green tea may help support healthy metabolic function and boost weight loss.
Green tea contains a catechin known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG has been shown to help prevent cell damage and reduce inflammation. Oolong tea contains many of the same catechins as green tea, and therefore has many of the same health benefits.
Black tea may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes because it helps control blood sugar levels.
White tea is the least processed and has the highest antioxidant levels of the tea varieties. It is thought to be exceptionally good for reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system.
Pu’erh tea is fermented and contains living cultures. Pu’erh is great for keeping the gut biome in good condition.
2. Tea is a stimulant
Like coffee, tea contains caffeine. Many of us rely on a morning dose of caffeine to get our day started.
People often choose to drink a cup of tea when their energy levels are fading and they need a boost.
Some people prefer black tea as their go-to energy-giving tea, while others opt for green. True tea connoisseurs might reach for an oolong or pu’erh instead.
Of the five tea varieties, white tea is the only one that has relatively low levels of caffeine and so is not usually used as a stimulant.
Have you ever wondered which tea has the highest caffeine content? The answer may surprise you!
3. Social reasons for drinking tea
“Would you like a cup of tea?” is probably one of the most commonly asked questions in the English language.
There is something uniquely special about connecting with a friend or family member over a warm drink.
For some people the drink of choice might be coffee, but for many others it is a nice mug of tea.
In Britain and the US, hosts will traditionally serve a pot of English Breakfast alongside foods that pair well with black tea, such as cookies or cakes.
Tea ceremonies have been a part of many Asian cultures for centuries. The Japanese tea ceremony is a traditional way of brewing green tea that dates back to the 8th century.
The purpose of the ceremony is to allow guests to indulge in the host’s hospitality, and to create an atmosphere that is utterly different from that of everyday life.
The ceremony is highly ritualized, and the protocol is precisely defined. The ceremony typically takes place surrounded by a garden.
Traditional ceremonies of this nature are not unique to Japan, and many people drink tea as a part of social, ritualistic events of this kind.
4. Drinking tea for the taste
Of course, many people like drinking tea simply because it tastes good!
Black tea has an earthy, malty flavor. Its many varieties, including Assam, Darjeeling, and Ceylon, have all sorts of unique and delectable notes. There are fruitier black teas, more aromatic black teas, and smokier black teas.
While black tea can have a slightly astringent, bitter aftertaste, many people have their preferred way to drink black tea, which may involve combining it with other ingredients.
There is the traditional British approach of combining black tea with milk and sugar. However, there are numerous other ways to make black tea taste better.
Green tea has a brisk, aromatic, vegetal flavor. Many people choose to make green tea taste better by serving it with lemon or honey in order to add sweetness to a tea that can sometimes have a lightly bitter taste. Others enjoy the taste of pure, well-brewed green tea.
White tea has a delicate, aromatic, citrusy flavor profile. Many people enjoy indulging in drinking the “champagne of teas” for its delicate, sweet taste.
Oolong tea is a rich, dark tea. It is floral and grassy in taste and has a thick mouthfeel. Oolong tea leaves have only been partially oxidized by being wilted in the sun and gently bruised.
Pu’erh is a fermented tea that has a rich, woody flavor.