Special Tea: Green, Black, White or Red, Tea Time is Now
From celebrated traditions to endless health benefits, teatime is now.
- CategoryEat & Drink
WRITTEN BY JENNIE NUNN
There are more than a few reasons why tea—a beloved beverage and cultural custom—is worth talking about. “Tea is the world’s most popular beverage after water,” explains Maranda Barnes, director of corporate communications and cofounder of Singapore–based luxury tea brand TWG Tea Company. Her firm recently opened its North American flagship: TWG Tea Salon & Boutique in Vancouver, Canada.
“Production numbers 4 million tons every year,” Maranda says, “and at the latest count 15,000 cups are drunk every second all over the world.”
Tea has always been a noble product that has shaped landscapes and geography, cultures and traditions, destinies and desires. Through the years various tea cultures grew, and the concept of afternoon tea became popular throughout Europe in the 1970saccompanied by an assortment of scones, muffins, jams and clotted cream.
Today tea appreciation has become an institution on its own, with well-traveled customers demanding better quality teas and experience. Steve Schwartz, founder of Los Angeles–based tea importer and wholesaler Art of Tea, believes that one of the most important aspects of tea is simply the mindful act of preparing a cup of tea.
“One of the major benefits of tea is the preparation,” he shares. “A lot of people talk about the health benefits, and frankly the scientific community has done a phenomenal job of highlighting all the health benefits as far as fighting cancer, heart disease and a number of other ailments such as digestion and weight loss. But I’d say probably one of the major benefits is that mindful act preparing a cup of tea—from getting the water ready, to knowing what water you’re using, to selecting the leaves, pouring the water over the leaves and just being really mindful in that process.”
Steve creates signature tea blends for restaurants and hotels such as Hotel Bel-Air and has just launched an iced tea starter kit and biodegradable filter bags for loose-leaf tea on the go. “We are so distracted in our world today with technology and with all these other things, and the real benefit is just putting your energy and mindfulness into the cup—and in turn you’re drinking that cup. It’s this circular action that creates this level of intention that’s really beautiful and spills over to the rest of your day. It’s often so overlooked.”
He continues: “A little secret that most people don’t realize is that that white, green, oolong and black tea all come from the same evergreen shrub, called Camellia sinensis. Most people think, ‘Oh, green tea comes from the green tea plant, and black tea comes from black tea plant,’ but in fact, you can find basically the same health benefits in green tea as you can in black tea.”
Common Uses: Decreases diabetes risk, promotes stronger bones, helps increase energy and promotes lower stress
Maranda Barnes: Our teas, such as our 1837 Black Tea or Singapore Breakfast Tea, may also improve digestion and drain the body of excess fluids. It is also very effective against bodily fatigue.
Steve Schwartz: Our Classic Black won best iced tea in the world at the World Tea Expo, and we put a blend of South Indian teas and Yunnan in Southeast China. We blend these two black teas together, and it’s all organic, and you end up getting this bright, brisk flavor with this really clean molasses-type finish to it. It’s the perfect iced tea. It’s really great; a lot of hotels and restaurants that we work with end up using this as their iced tea. One of the added benefits is that there are slightly more tannins within black tea, so after you have a meal that’s heavy in grease and oil content, black tea is great to aid in digestion.”
Common Uses: Improves brain function, boosts short-term metabolic rate, reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
MB: Our signature Silver Moon Tea or 1837 Green Tea is especially recommended for pregnant women, as it increases the intake of zinc and vitamin C. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
SS: We carry a green tea called Eisai’s Choice Sencha that’s used in Zen monasteries throughout Japan as a focus before meditation. So before they get into this deep state of mindfulness, they will enjoy a cup of Eisai’s Choice Sencha and they are able to sit for an extended period of time and be very alert and mindful. Many people work sitting at their desks, and they need to be very mentally clear and sharp. Green tea is one of those things that can really help get them there.
Common Uses: Helps with headaches, asthma, insomnia and allergies
MB: Red teas such as our Red of Africa Tea or Eternal Summer Tea, which is from the rooibos plant in South Africa, 100% theine-free, contains a high level of antioxidants and is very rich in vitamin C, mineral salts and proteinmaking it ideal for both children and pregnant women.
SS: The roobois tea is caffeine-free and has this kind of bourbon, thick, full-mouth feel. We do a number of rooibois blends, including chai. We don’t believe in decaf black tea, because it goes through a chemical process. If you still want that robust flavor (like a black tea), use a really short steep time if you’re sensitive to caffeine.