For ages, tea has been part of Irish tradition. Many cultures include tea rituals. And in recent years, Americans have taken to tea.
The tea trend owes much to research that attributes health-enhancing properties to Camellia sinesis, the tea shrub, and to its liquor, the proper label for brewed tea. Teas contain vitamins A, B, C, and E, minerals, and antioxidants. With less caffeine than coffee, tea is touted as a tonic to stabilize blood sugar and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. The verdict is still out on whether coffee consumption is helpful or harmful to humans; tea, on the other hand, has been touted as medicinal for millennia.
The benefits, bodily and psychologically, of tea are known to many cultures, far and wide. After water, tea is the planet’s most popular drink. And the beverage is nearly as timeless as civilization. Legend holds that the Emperor Shen Nung serendipitously discovered tea in 2727 BC, when a tealeaf fell into boiling water. The wise emperor recognized the beverage’s medicinal properties, and tea came to be known in the East as the infusion of immortality. By 450 AD, a spot of well-steeped tea was well recognized as medicine.
A tea aficionado is similar to a wine lover. As with wine and wine glasses, fine teas demand pots and cups of different shapes. Connoisseurs should own three – a solid pot for strong black tea, a wicker-handled Chinese teapot with bowls rather than cups for Asian green tea, and a traditional pot painted with a floral design for blends like Earl Grey. Worldwide, tea merchants traffic in more than 3,000 tea varieties, and nearly as many teapot styles exist.
As a creature comfort, tea quenches quickly, yet the elixir is meant to be taken leisurely, lingered over. Tea is reflective, a genteel downshift, something to be savored sip by sip. A guilt-free, healthful pleasure.
••• “Cultivate your corner of the world. You grow your garden; your garden grows you.” •••
Colleen Smith’s debut novel Glass Halo, set in Denver, was a finalist for the Santa Fe Literary Prize and was praised in the latest issue of The Bloomsbury Review. The novel is available online and through your favorite bookstore.
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