On day 35 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I explored the art of tea drinking.
Second only to water, coffee and tea are the most popular beverages consumed throughout the world.
I started drinking coffee in college (not because I liked it necessarily but because it made me more alert), and I’ve since grown to enjoy it. But because I’ve considered myself a coffee drinker for most of my adult life, I’d never really given tea a chance. The few times I’d tried it, I either couldn’t bring myself to finish it or felt nauseated afterward.
What I’ve discovered since then is that a) the quality of the tea makes a big difference, and b) there are many variations of tea that I never knew existed.
Many bagged teas available in stores or restaurants are stale, and although foil packets may keep the tea fresh a little longer, they generate a lot of waste. (At least I can compost the paper wrappers.) I knew that whole leaf teas existed, but I had no idea what to do with them. How much should I use? How long should it steep? And perhaps most importantly, what kind did I even like?
That’s where I lucked out: It turns out that tea is a lot like wine. With so many varieties and blends, it was a safe bet that I’d be able to find something I liked.
I stumbled across a local tea store a year or so ago, and late last year I attended a class that helped me better understand tea, as well as my own personal affinities. I’ve discovered that I like black and oolong the best, and the green varieties will need to grow on me.
I still enjoy coffee, but tea is a treat with a completely different profile of health benefits. Polyphenols found in tea have anti-inflammatory properties that have been linked to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, and some research has shown promising results with cancer prevention – though the FDA has still not approved related claims.
Aside from the systemic health benefits of tea, slowing down to enjoy a cup of tea supports the emotive dimension of our well-being too.