What beverage is the most popular and is consumed the most every day, beaten only by water? What is the most versatile drink on Earth? What is my drink of choice when I am studying hard? The same beverage I am drinking at this very moment while I’m writing this article. Let me introduce you to the wonders of tea, which belongs to be put in the same list as fire and the wheel. Other people might prefer to drink coffee in order to quench their thirst whilst staying concentrated, however that is simply not my cup of tea. I prefer the light, herbal taste in my relaxing drink instead of the bitter, concentrated blackness that people put up with at work when they desperately need to stay awake. Yes, you’ve got that right, in this article I am also going to roast coffee and drink tea while doing it.
Long ago, in a time of adventurers and pioneers, in an age of exploration, people grew tired of drinking bland, tasteless water. A daring few challenged their society’s insistence of consuming the same, old, boring beverage day by day. They ventured into the unknown, deep into far, distant lands to discover new ingredients to improve their drinks. Historically, one of these lands lies in Southern China, namely the Yunnan province, the birthplace of tea. In a Chinese legend, Shennong, the legendary Emperor of China and inventor of agriculture and Chinese medicine, was drinking a bowl of boiled water as he ordered his subjects to boil water before drinking it. Some time around 2737 BC, a few leaves from a nearby tree were blown into his bowl, changing the color and taste of the water. The emperor was pleasantly surprised by the taste and restorative properties of the blend, and found it to work as an antidote when he tested the effects of various herbs on himself as some were poisonous. Whether or not the ancient tales of tea are true or fictitious, it is clear that tea has had a significant impact on the history and culture in Asia for centuries and that it enjoys a prestigious reputation as a beverage, medicine and as a status symbol.
Tea as a medicine you say? Mankind’s greatest miracle? I hear you’re sceptical, you can hear the bells of salvation ringing, but you still refuse to listen. You are one tough cookie, but you will see reason before I’m done, I promise you. The amount health benefits of tea are many and they are well-documented. In overall, tea contains a lot of antioxidants, which help your cells regenerate and repair and thus slow down aging, some even claim it helps to ward off cancer. Tea contains caffeine, the same drug that is found in coffee, albeit in lower amounts (depending on the blend). A big difference between the two however is that tea in general helps you stay hydrated, while coffee actually starts to dehydrate you. Because of tea’s superior hydrating properties, it gives energy while making you feel less jittery and anxious than caffeine and it doesn’t keep you from going to sleep when you feel like it. I personally already feel the anxious effects of caffeine at my second black cup high-density liquified entropic void, while I can drink tea all day without a care in the world. In fact, tea has been found to decrease stress hormone levels, lowers the risk of cognitive impairment, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, protects against heart disease and protects your bones and teeth, strengthens your immune system, temporarily improves your memory and eases irritability, headaches, nervous tension and insomnia. Some other properties, which may or may not be true as they are still being tested, are the aforementioned ability of tea to protect against cancer and heart disease, and the capacity to prevent Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and arthritis. With all that evidence, tea should reasonably be deemed to have medicinal properties wouldn’t you say?
But coffee is not to be regarded as simply a black sheep, oh no, certainly not if you keep adding milk and sugar. With those two ingredients you could make anything taste sweet and delicious. As long as you don’t put those two ingredients in tea however, all the aforementioned effects apply. I advise you to lay off the sugar and learn to taste tea as nature intended. When you have completed this goal and have developed a liking for the true taste of tea, go ahead and compare it to that of coffee. Can you really, shamelessly and unrepentantly tell me that you prefer that kiss of black death? Are you a masochist? There are only two situations in which coffee is a tolerable alternative to tea, namely in the complete absence and inability to obtain tea, and during Agora plenaries. Kerosine might actually work better in that last one though, I certainly wouldn’t be able to taste the difference.
Now that we have discussed the range of properties that tea can possess, let me tell you about the different kinds of tea that mankind has discovered. The properties depend on the blend after all. My personal favorites among tea are green, white, jasmine and rooibos. Green tea is widely known for its medicinal properties, but should take a while to get used to. White tea is the least processed of all teas, therefore containing the most antioxidants. I think it tastes absolutely delicious, even more so than green tea. Jasmine is most of the time used as an additive to green or white teas, and I think it gives a nice floral tone to the tea that makes it extra refreshing. Rooibos is an herb that grows in South Africa, tea made from this plant contains no caffeine whatsoever, I find it the most relaxing tea out of them all and I prefer to drink it before going to sleep. Ginger tea contains a lot of vitamin C and minerals, it is very medicinal but people either love it or hate it. Another popular and particularly nice tea is black tea, is one of the most oxidized teas, which means it is the most concentrated and has a really strong flavor. Black tea is very popular in Turkey and fills an integral part of its culture, Turkish people on average drink the most tea in the world after all. In China, where it was discovered, black tea is also enjoyed but is called “red tea” due to its color. Black tea accounts for over 90% of all teas sold in the West, the traditional English tea blend is also a black tea for example. If you’d put a gun to my head and force me to tell me which tea I don’t like as much, I’d tell you I’m not a fan of Earl Grey, which is a tea blend with the addition of oil of bergamot. It is a British tea that I don’t like the taste of. It is said that it was discovered by Charles Grey, a British prime minister in the 1830s. According to legend, he saved a Chinese Mandarin’s son who was drowning, the father then presented the blend to him as a reward. I am sorry to disappoint you but Charles Grey has reportedly never set foot in China, so your pro-colonial pipe dreams are best kept to yourself.
What other things has mankind experimented with in order to make delicious tea? Rocks? Poisonous mushrooms? Snakes? As you can imagine, the road to tea was paved by lots and lots of mistakes. The pioneers put their own well-being on the line in order to brew the best tea, leading to some interesting blends containing for example: panda dung, garlic, fermented yak butter and tomato mint tea. Other blends are interesting only for the color they produce, take Thai blue tea for example, made from dried butterfly pea flowers. In fact, tea might come in all kinds of colors, even purple! Not all teas are created equal though, some can be considered dangerous. Dry bubble ice tea especially has the capacity to be lethal, it contains bubbles of dry ice, frozen carbon dioxide (solid CO2, formed at −78.5°C) which can burn you when you accidentally touch it, or even freeze your flesh. They are consumed by using an extra wide straw, as they are supposed to be sipped instead of slurped, as to not drink the frozen bubbles of deadly death. One might think this kind of tea is hard to come by, as consumption isn’t exactly the safest, but you’d be wrong as they are sold to the public right in the center of Beijing, China. The world of tea truly is a wondrous one.
In the jungle, the mighty jungle, a traditional and spiritual tea blend containing monoamine oxidase inhibitors and N,N-dimethyltryptamine (better known by its abbreviation: DMT) is consumed by the indigenous people that live there and serve as a popular tourist attraction. This blend, known as “Ayahuasca” throughout Northern South America and Brazil, can mean anything from “liana of the spirit” to “liana of the dead” and is used by shamans for its healing properties to cure both mental and physical ailments. It has attracted a more international appeal by its psychoactive properties, which have not been fully scientifically researched due to social stigma. Another ancient, traditional psychoactive tea blend is Bhang, an edible preparation of cannabis originating from India that has been consumed since 1000 BC. Another tea that belongs on the same list as these two, but is a lot more dangerous and potentially lethal, is poppy seed tea. It belongs to the opioids and can easily cause an overdose and cause death, as the chemical composition of these seeds differ greatly. The point is that you can make tea out of pretty much anything, with different effects, some beneficial and some to take into account. Think of that next time you walk around in a forest and decide to make tea out of mushrooms and tree moss.
So are you seriously going to tell me you’ve come all this way, that you’ve read this entire article and you are still adamant on continuing your coffee addiction? Fine. I saved the best reason for last, the final nail in the coffee coffin. Coffee plants are becoming an endangered species, scientists have determined at least 60% are in danger of dying out due to climate change. How much longer will you be able to support your unhealthy lifestyle? How many years will it take before coffee will become a luxury item for real? Perhaps in twenty years, perhaps after our lifetime, the sentence however has already been served. Coffee will disappear. Embrace tea.
So to recap: What is the best beverage ever invented? What drink will improve your health? Who is your favourite character from The A Team? What is the meaning of life?
Have a cup of positivitea.