While folks like me are busy writing about how tea is a great cuppa instead of the usual coffee that so many folks turn to here in the U.S., a certain company that sells lots of coffee drinks here is trying to change the mindset of the tea drinking public in China. The key to both of these is changing the perception of tea drinking. But for this article, I’m only concerned with getting folks here to see tea in a new light.
Lots of tea drinkers here in the U.S. and elsewhere see tea drinking as something for taking take time out of their day to enjoy or regard as a treat for a special event — going out to a tea room with friends or to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or holiday such as Mother’s Day. But for many of us, tea is the first cup in the morning that says the new day has officially begun, the mid-morning cuppa that helps us deal with the long and boring meeting or the pile of work that mysteriously appeared on our desk, the lunchtime cuppa to make another peanut butter and jelly sandwich seem less repetitive, and that afternoon break cuppa where you just need a bit more oomph! to get to the end of your work day.
In China, India, Morocco, Japan, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and a host of other countries, the perception of tea drinking is quite different. Tea carts are readily seen on the streets of the larger cities in India. Tea rooms are plentiful in Japan, China, and other Asian countries. Bubble tea shops are also commonplace, with tea being the drink of choice for a thirst quencher and/or pick-me-up. Sure, tea drinking has been going on much longer in some of these countries and is therefore more engrained in their culture, but we can move faster in these modern times, with information more readily available on that Internet “super highway.” Many in the U.S. are familiar with Japanese tea ceremonies, with gongfu steeping methods, and even the European approach to tea drinking. The next step is saying “I’m up for a cuppa [tea]” instead of heading to that coffee pot filled with bitter-tasting coffee that has been sitting on a heating element for a few hours in the break room.
Even in Britain where the pace of life is quickening and snacking is replacing meals as much there as in the U.S., the tradition of Afternoon Tea is alive and well since the perception of tea drinking is still as being an important break in the day. Many European countries hold on to this perception as well, with tea shops flourishing more than ever, their shelves lined with a wide assortment of teas, both flavored and unflavored, blends and single estate (or even single flush), premium and low grade.
Health factors could play a role here in getting folks to turn from coffee to tea (but not the reverse). Seeing tea as the alternative to coffee, with it much higher caffeine content, and to sodas, with their carbonation and often a high sugar content, is becoming the norm for many people here and in other countries. Canada has a chain of tea shops (that has even opened a few here in the U.S.) that are not only meeting an increasing demand for tea but driving that demand with their line-up of flavored teas as well as a number of premium unflavored ones.
We constantly hear the saying that:
“If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you.” ~Gladstone, 1865
Something to remember next time you are cold, hot, depressed, excited… in short, any time you just are — have some tea!
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