A (not so) new trend is brewing in cities across America. Although steeped in tradition dating back to 2000 BCE, tea, tea rooms and tea shops have been gaining popularity over the past several years, despite the US’s reputation as a coffee nation. If you are asking yourself why this trend is gaining so much steam, you might want to put the kettle on because the health benefits are plen-tea-ful.
One of the oldest and most-widely used plants in the world, the origin of tea began thousands of years ago in China first for medicinal purposes, then for gift giving, courtship rituals, and ancestor worship. Around the 9th century its popularity spread to neighboring countries Japan, Korea and the Middle East, and by the 18th and 19th centuries it was being enjoyed all over the world.
Today tea is the second-most consumed beverage in the world besides water. Turkey ranks number one for countries that drink the most tea, at nearly 7 pounds per person each year! Ireland comes in second at 4.8 pounds, followed closely in third place by the UK at 4.2 pounds. The US is further down the list at just 0.5 pounds consumed per person each year, although slowly but surely America is becoming a nation of tea drinkers, but why the gain in popularity?
The growth of the tea market in the past several years can be attributed to several factors, including greater availability and varieties (e.g., matcha, kombucha, bubble tea) and celebrity endorsements (e.g., chai tea endorsed by Oprah). Even more so, however, tea has been linked to many positive effects on a person’s health.
Researchers have found that drinking tea can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and type-2 diabetes, increase bone density, protect against cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer, helping us to live longer. This is thanks to disease-fighting antioxidants called polyphenols and catechins, which fight off free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage cells, change DNA and cause cancerous tumors to grow, allowing disease to spread and wreaking medical havoc in our bodies.
Polyphenols and catechins hold the most promise for fighting heart disease and certain types of cancer, including prostate, because of their restorative and disease-fighting properties. The more foods and beverages containing polyphenols we consume the better chances our bodies have of fighting off free radicals. Besides being found in tea of the Camellia sinensis variety (e.g., Black, Green, Oolong, White, and Pu’erh) small quantities of these antioxidants are also found in grapes and wine and chocolate (cacao).
So, whether it’s morning tea, afternoon tea, high tea, or just a warm cup of chamomile before bed, the benefits of sipping is simply beau-tea-ful.
The residents of The Merion recently enjoyed afternoon Tea with Tammy, one of the community’s many engaging activities and programs!