Monday, March 12, 2012

Americans Love Tea

Truth be told, we Americans love tea. Tracing the roots of America's tea culture, inevitably leads to the Boston Tea Party. At various times throughout American tea history consumption shifted from green to black tea due to the evolution of processing methods, variations in quality, significant marketing campaigns, and wartime embargoes. Tea culture in America has evolved considerably since the colonial and wartime eras and now embraces a wide spectrum of cultural traditions, including those of Taiwan and China.
How do the characteristics of American culture interface with traditional tea? Generally, Americans enjoy variety, novelty, and engaging in new and interesting experiences. This engagement of diversity, which is an element of the American spirit, creates a window though which we can enjoy traditional tea culture. Ultimately tea traditions from various cultures are integrated and co-exist to create America’s unique tea culture.
In the United States, the popular press frequently disseminates the results of scientific studies, particularly those related to health. Medical studies touting tea’s health properties for various conditions including eczema, hypertension, cancer, and depression/anxiety have motivated some Americans to seek out tea. The reputed high levels of antioxidants and lower levels of caffeine (compared to coffee) also attract new tea drinkers.

6 comments:

BR said...

Was this Ukers inspired? I just finished a rigorous skimming of Vol. 1.

J-Tea said...

It was not, rather, tea conference inspired. I still need to crack the Ukers open. How was your initial skimming?

BR said...

The first part with the intro & history has some great content. When it got to the tea in specific areas part my eyes glazed over a bit, but a nice flipthrough for the pictures and info that was neaby. The ending has some nice fundamental tea science stuff that is usually skipped in most of the stuff I have read before.

J-Tea said...

Cool! I have to check them out. Next up, tea field trip!

Alex Zorach said...

I find the angle of approaching tea through novelty-seeking to be a very fascinating and, hopefully, fruitful and effective way to draw Americans into tea culture. This is one of the key ideas behind RateTea.

The health issue, however, highlights something that I don't like about American society--the tendency to get sucked into health fads and food fads, and the tendency to focus on what we "should" eat or drink, rather than what tastes good. I ultimately think that this tendency needs to be overcome, if we are to draw people into tea culture, as the focus on health at the expense of taste ultimately allows companies pushing supplements or low-quality tea to push cheap products on people for high prices. But I think that there is solid science backing the idea that people are healthier if they enjoy their food and drink, and I think that this tendency in American food culture can also be overcome, even by just appealing to health and science.

J-Tea said...

Alex,
That's really cool. It brings to mind psychological benefits of brewing tea, to create a calm state of mind vs. consuming something with science driving decision making regarding consumption. Can't we just enjoy what is good anymore?
Anyway, like always, I enjoy your thoughtful input.