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Why drinking tea is good for humanity

 [ IMAGE: Ya-Ya Teahouse ] Yes, I know. This is a pretty big statement.
But I seriously believe that tea can be part of the way forward in these turbulent times.
I’ve talked to two “missionaries” of Jehova’s Witnesses this morning who tried to help people finding the right way in the current confusion created by peak oil, a quickly changing climate and rapid social changes. I guess, religions must flourish in times like these.
The discussion made me realise that tea might be – while not the solution itself – a step into the right direction. Maybe it isn’t a coincidence that the current tea renaissance in the Western World happens at a time when these cultures begin to understand their need to re-connect with nature.

Tea helps to focus
So what makes me think that tea, a beverage as simple as it gets, could help humanity in today’s rapidly developing chaos?
Well, for one, tea has a unique ability to focus people’s minds. Unlike coffee, tea helps us to focus very effectively by gently raising our level of awareness and perception. It is no coincidence that tea has been used traditionally to aid meditation since it counters drowsiness and sharpens our senses.
Another kind of focus that tea often induces is a focus on nature. Most people that move beyond the quick-fix of a hastily steeped tea bag start to ritualise their tea drinking. The surroundings play an important role in tea appreciation and many people would agree that they had their best cup of tea either somewhere outside in nature or with a great bunch of friends.
This brings me to another aspect of tea, namely its effects on social behaviour. In China, business meetings are often held in teahouses over a pot of tea. This tradition has a long history and I like to compare it to the role a handshake used to have in Western business deals. Just like the handshake, doing business deals over tea adds a level of confidence, honesty and reliability to the whole affair.
Another remarkable effect of tea on its devoted consumers is the desire to share. If you are reading any of the dozens of fantastic tea blogs out there, you’ll have noticed that people love to share their treasures. If someone comes across a great tea, he or she will want to share it with people who will appreciate it. Just as in the old German proverb “Geteilte Freude ist doppelte Freude” (a joy shared is twice the joy), the tea you drink tastes better if you share it.

Tea is good for your health
The last decades have seen the emergence of many new diseases for humankind. Many of these diseases are related to an ever-increasing level of stress or to a change in our diet from comparatively natural food to heavily processed foods.
Tea can help with both of these issues. Anyone who’s been to our teahouse or had a conscious tea session will know about the calming effects of tea. While it raises awareness (partly due to its caffeine content), it has also a soothing and relaxing effect on the mind. It is not uncommon that people come to the teahouse all stressed out and leave 3 hours later completely relaxed (sometimes to realize that they’ve missed an appointment an hour ago). Tea can help us to take a break, to slow us down.
For more than the first half of its known existence, tea has been used primarily as a medicine. And although it is mostly enjoyed as an everyday drink today, it still plays an important role in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Different types of tea are used on a constitutional level to adjust imbalances like excessive heat in the body (green tea, white tea and young raw ‘sheng’ pu-erh have a cooling effect on the body while oolongs, black tea and ripe ‘shou’ pu-erh act as warming herbs).
But beyond the deeper constitutional effects of tea, modern scientific research continually discovers a wealth of health-improving effects offered by the simple leaf of camellia sinensis. Tea has been shown to offer substantial benefits in such diverse areas as cancer prevention, anti-aging and weight-loss. (As a matter of fact, I’ll cover the new findings on health benefits of tea in a future article)

Why do YOU think tea could be beneficial for humanity? Leave us a comment if you have any stories or thoughts you’d like to share with us.

[techtags: tea, society, health, humanity]

9 Responses to Why drinking tea is good for humanity »»


  1. Comment by Bamboo Forest | 2008/06/29 at 04:21:02

    Wonderful article. I thought all of pu-erh was warming. I find it interesting that in Chinese medicine sheng pu-erh is cooling!

    I agree with your sentiment. I believe everything about tea lends itself to quieting ones mind and creating a conducive atmosphere for quiet contemplation. From the preparation itself, relaxing flavor, all the way to the properties in the tea. It all contributes to a better state.

  2. Jo
    Comment by Jo | 2008/06/29 at 18:13:17

    Hi Bamboo Forest,
    pu-erh is quite unique in its constitutional effects. Young sheng is in a way similar to green tea and has a cooling effect, while aged sheng acts warming (just like shou). It’s confusing, but I always visualize it in colours: green and white (as well as young sheng) produce a rather light infusion (colder colours), while black, highly oxidized or roasted oolong and aged sheng or shou pu-erh produce infusions with a deep colour. I’m not too sure where lightly oxidized and non-roasted oolongs. I’ll have to ask our local TCM practitioner about that…

  3. Comment by Green Tea | 2008/06/30 at 03:45:40

    Theanine in tea sharpens our focus indeed.

    With all the benefits that tea can give our bodies, it truly is beneficial to humanity.

    Nice thoughts!

  4. fm
    Comment by fm | 2008/07/01 at 08:59:44

    why the irrelevant and closed-minded reference to the missionaries? It distracted me from your article and made me think you were a bigot. I’m not religious at all, but even I know to steer clear of the subject because it is such a red herring.

  5. Comment by Diane | 2008/07/01 at 20:55:38

    @ fm,
    I believe the more we say, the more we express, the more we learn. Opinions are a freedom worth expressing so we better understand each other.

  6. Jo
    Comment by Jo | 2008/07/01 at 23:52:09

    Hi fm,
    my article was never intended as a defamation of religion nor to judge anyone’s beliefs.
    For you to misunderstand that, I guess you must have misinterpreted my markup: I’ve used the quotation marks around the word missionaries because I don’t think that this is what they are called but the word describes the activity well; the italicizing of the next bit wasn’t meant as a judgment but rather a statement forming the connection to the following concepts.

    It is ironic that you regard me as a bigot for the statements I made since bigotry was one of the very few things I held against these “missionaries” I’ve talked to. Most of their ideals were quite universal and we mutually agreed on almost everything they said, it was just the exclusivity of the resolution (i.e. there’s no room for other beliefs) that didn’t fit my world view.
    But after all, you might be right and I could really be a bigot (a thought that never occurred to me before since nobody ever suggested it). I just re-read my last post and under this new light, I think the first paragraph could squarely qualify me as a bigot.

    You found this part irrelevant (which I can relate to) and closed-minded (which I don’t understand). Let me explain the relevance: the idea of writing an article is often sparked by an encounter, thought or feeling. For me, that connection is highly relevant and in the case of this article, it serves as a good introduction to the points I wanted to make.
    We are living in increasingly confusing times and people all around are “losing focus” and get lost in confusion. There are different approaches to solving that problem. Tea can be one and that was my main point.

  7. Comment by gareth perry | 2008/07/18 at 15:51:12

    probably talking about tea without milk
    damn hippies

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