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]