When I first became enamored with tea, I did what most newbies do – I explored the history of tea. Reading yesterday’s post, A Thirst For Empire, got me thinking about the role that tea is playing today in the 21st Century.

As a former Coca Cola addict–and I use that term clinically–I had often joked that if soda was my worst addiction, I was doing quite well indeed. Little did I know at that time that my four cans of Coke a day were very hazardous to my health. It was when I attended a conference of the American Herbalist Guild that I finally understood the dangers of soda. My personal introduction to tea was guided by my desire to eliminate soda from my diet and find something that was actually healthy for me to drink instead. A trip to Southeast Asia sealed the deal when I finally had my first cup of green tea that was properly brewed using high-end whole leaf tea leaves. The rest, as they say, is history!

Given my awareness of tea and my growing interest in green tea, I felt compelled to introduce Americans to this amazingly healthy brew. In my heart, I believed that if people could shift away from high-sugar beverages and come to appreciate and LOVE tea, it had the potential to have an impact on their health. I started T Ching in 2006 with a strong focus on the health benefits of tea. Much to my surprise, that didn’t sit well with tea aficionados at that time. They were very much turned off by the focus of health benefits and felt that the delicious taste and ritual of tea was what should be addressed. I disagreed. I believed that once people made the shift for health reasons, the taste and ritual would be the obvious next step in the progression for tea lovers.

Tea consumption has grown each and every year since 2006 and I believe the biggest driver has been the health benefits of tea. Over centuries, tea has played an important role in the culture of that time. I believe that’s happening now as well. As of 2016, supplement use in the U.S. became a 37 billion dollar industry. Tea is currently a 12.5 billion dollar industry and growing briskly. The general public “gets it”. They finally understand that we must each take responsibility for our health and wellness. We must manage our stress, engage in physical activity, and eat a healthy diet. Tea is an excellent part of a healthy diet.

It is most distressing to learn that our youngest citizens will be the first generation who aren’t expected to live as long as their parents. Our children are heavier than they’ve ever been and sicker than they’ve ever been. I believe there are 2 primary reasons for that:

  1. Decrease in physical activity. It used to be that kids went out to play after school, running around with their friends, maybe on their bikes or playing games that challenged them physically. Today’s kids are often found on their computers or smartphones. This decrease in physical activity takes a huge toll on general health.
  2. Increase in consumption of soda.  Go to any mall in the U.S. and you’ll see kids drinking soda. Next time you’re at a restaurant, check out what the kids are drinking. More than likely, it will be a soda. Health conscious parents encourage fruit juices which typically are full of added sugars and certainly without their pulp which plays an important role in how our body deals with the natural sugars in fruit. When I encourage young moms to introduce their little ones to tea, they become consumed with worry about caffeine. They are clearly missing the boat. A small cup of tea, lightly brewed, will have less caffeine than a few Hershey Kisses – and no one seems concerned about that! By encouraging a tea habit in our children, that will go a long way to ensure that they will become dedicated tea drinkers throughout their life. What child wouldn’t be interested in drinking a “grown up” hot beverage in tiny little cups?

I am proud to have been an early adopter, whose focus was on the health benefits of tea. I am delighted that tea is playing an important role in the critically important health and wellness movement that is sweeping the country and the globe. I believe consumers will be the ones to save our dysfunctional health care system by taking responsibility for their own health. With our focus on wellness, we can determine what each of us must do to increase the likelihood of abundant health.

If you’re a regular reader of T Ching, then you’re already aware of how terrific tea is. Make an effort to turn on your extended family and friends to this amazing beverage. The gift of health is the most important gift of all.

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