I suspect that we have cartoonist Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip, to thank (or blame) for the rash of slogans that begin with “happiness is” and end with just about anything you can imagine. Perhaps there were other such slogans that predate Schulz’s famous “Happiness is a Warm Puppy,” which debuted on April 25, 1960 (click and scroll down), but countless variations have followed in its wake.
So is there happiness to be found in a cup of tea? Well, I guess that would depend on whether you like tea or not. I can safely say that tea causes me quite a lot of happiness, and reading the commentary from a host of other tea bloggers and others leads me to believe that it’s true for them as well.
But what is it about tea that makes us happy? I suspect that it varies from person to person. Some of us might like the ritual of tea prep and consumption while others (including yours truly) find the taste to be the best part of the tea experience. Others might just find happiness in keeping up a familiar tradition that they’ve grown up with.
Clinically speaking, however, it’s likely that some of the happiness that comes from tea drinking is due to theanine. Which is a compound that’s contained in tea that’s been found to cause a feeling of calmness and/or relaxation in those who drink it. Which is not happiness in the strictest sense of the word, but if you’re calm and relaxed you’re probably well on the way to being happy.
According to one book on tea and more specifically, on the Japanese tea ceremony (Sado), tea can provide not just one type of happiness but fifteen types. The book is titled The Fifteen Types of Happiness that Sado Brings, by Noriko Morishita. It was apparently first published in 2002, but it doesn’t appear that it’s currently available in an English edition.
For more on the connection between tea and happiness you might also turn to author Theresa Cheung for a few thoughts. She’s the author of Tea Bliss: Infuse Your Life with Health, Wisdom, and Contentment, a book that’s been around for a few years. In it, she gives a variety of evidence to support her claims that tea helps people relax and makes them healthier and happier.
See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.
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