I would like to put a question to the tea community. We all know that tea is becoming very popular, which is a good thing. Here is an article titled Why Tea is the New Coffee. I’d like you to read this article, which is very representative of what is happening throughout the U.S. in terms of the growing popularity of tea. My question to you is; is this really tea, or is it flavoring? What are people really drinking here? I know that the U.S. has a major sweet tooth and retailers feel they need to meet that national craving. I also know that C. sinensis is the base for these flavored teas (some of the time, the rest are herbal tisanes), but what is the quality of these teas and what are people actually tasting? Do they get to really enjoy the taste of real tea and do they get enough to provide them with true health benefits which may be one of the main reasons they have started drinking it?
Or, is the trend toward tea drinking simply an economic decision?
Despite the fact that we are seeing a wonderful trend toward increased popularity and consumption of tea, I am concerned that in this country we will just turn it into more of the same. To me it looks like the rise of consumption of hot tea is looking more and more like an attempt to recreate bottled tea into a hot beverage.
I believe that, in this country at least, we have buried our ability to taste and enjoy the subtle natural flavors of our foods and beverages. There are so many lovely nuanced flavors in our foods that few of us give ourselves a chance to taste any more. Processed foods come pre-flavored and heavily salted, which we have become so used to that even when presented with unadulterated food choices, we smother them with sweeteners or other flavorings that hide the natural flavors. Even quality black teas, which have a natural sweetness, historically have always been masked by milk and sugar or lemon.
Please let me hear from you about this issue. I am very interested in what you think about this trend.
First published on the blog on January 17, 2007 as Is Tea the New Coffee? Almost eight years later . . . the answer is yes.