This article was originally posted to TChing in June of 2015.
If we’re here as contributors, readers or both, it’s most likely because we are fans of tea. Chef Wemischner loves to be creative with tea in recipes. Ifang Hsieh enjoys traveling and finding new tea experiences. Michelle Rabin appreciates the health and relaxation benefits of tea. Rajiv Lochan loves to promote great tea from India and to support small family estates and tea workers. And so on and so on. But we all are passionate about tea in one way or another.
Tea is the neutral in all of this. It allows each of us to build on it whatever we choose to build. We can steep it, brew it in a machine, infuse it into candy or cookies, and nowadays into cocktails or beer, blend it, grind it to a fine powder, oxidize it (or not), put it in soap to bathe with, lotions to soothe our skin, extracts, vitamins, and so much, much more. Tea is a leaf and will never be more or less. It’s what we choose to do with the leaf that has brought about such a huge, multi-faceted group of businesses and people for whom it is the focus.
Tea is white, or green, or yellow, or oolong or black . . . or pu-erh. Or matcha. It is delicious to some, a turn-off to others. It makes some extremely happy, others it just leaves cold. It has become equal to coffee in foodservice sales, mainly iced and black. It is an ancient plant with a current surge of trendiness. As Mintel Global Market Research says: Tea is hot.
Our grandmothers made us drink it when we were sick, usually with honey. Now many drink it to stay well and feel good, with great enjoyment. It has lived in bags for too many years when it would rather be swimming free. It has been studied by great scientists who have proven what those grandmothers already knew. Tea is not only good — it’s good for you.
What do you love about tea? There’s no right or only answer. A relationship with tea is what you make it.