Is Tea Just Tea?

What is tea to all you Steepsterites! What’s in tea that’s so magical and distinct than just a beverage made from an infusion of leaves and hot water? So steepsterites what all about the fuss of tea? Everyone’s welcome to speak their minds out and the topic can encompass a broad range of subjects.

30 Replies
gmathis said

Two things, I think:

One is the fact that one “parent” plant can be prepared in so many amazingly tasty ways—it is definitely a beverage for the curious.

The other is the comfort of preparation, which, when done properly, requires you to slow down, breathe deeply, w-a-i-t, rest, and enjoy a small blessing, whatever time of day or night it may be.

Kiaharii said

I agree. The variety is the best part, and it gets even bigger if you go away from “true tea” to herbals, rooibos, etc.

yes!Curiosity is definitely the sum of the parts that makes tea more than just a beverage! My love for tea in dept started out with just a plain cuppa of chai! All those spices just got me wondering what else is there in teas?

erik_s said

This is a good question. I’m glad you asked. Tea is a complex and refined experience, similar to the enjoyment of wine, craft beer, culinary coffee, expensive scotch, fine food, or just about anything that can be explored and enjoyed. Aside from that, it tastes really good. Tea is different from the other things that I mentioned (except for maybe coffee) in that it is healthy and inexpensive. Even the more expensive teas end up being cheap when you price them out by the cup. Tea is certainly more diverse than coffee, and in my opinion, a lot more fun. There is something of a cultural journey that you go on when you drink a tea from Darjeeling, or China. Once you move past the low grade bagged teas, like lipton or twinings, tea starts to become magical. There are not many other opportunities for connoissuership that can boast this experience.

Agreed Erik! I noticed it as a craft that has come to symbolised a culture, the land and people who cares and devotes their time into producing teas. Kinda different from a mass produced world today, kind takes the human hand and care out of a product for the sake of quantity…oh i wish those that think quantity does not make a product at all better.

Epi Tea said

Although there are of course many brands of tea that are mass produced. Huge brands that are just a little too cheap price-wise generally dont have the best of teas

Aside from what has already been mentioned. I find that tea can take you on a wonderful personal journey. Some teas conjure up wonderful memories of people and places, or something you experienced. It has the ability to bring a calm piece of nostalgia. Some people really look for a good tea that will take you on a good transportation down memory lane.

Bonnie said
I can’t sip a tea without it swirling into a vision or memory. Very evocative!
Bonnie said

Oh I failed to mention my head that feels so good with some tea’s. The tea buzz! Coffee doesn’t do that!
You noticed I didn’t speak about tea flavor, the culture and all. That is the obvious reply and was covered by others. You can’t exhaust the dialogue about tea any more than you can about wine. Complex and everchanging, tied to the earth, weather and so many other variables.

to each their own…to me food is an experience than the obvious essence of it. Its nice having opinions and this topic was really intended to delve deeply with people’s experience of culture and tea. I think for all of us food is more than something that comes in and out(lol), only natural to delve deeply into this dialogue. Thanks anyway for your opinion!

Bonnie said

I have no idea what you mean. I was not talking about food but tea. How tea feels as well as the complexity and everchanging taste. My experience working at a winery where earth and weather directly effects the wine produced is very much like the experience with tea! Why are you throwing out a rather broad and loose question and then editing the answer to suit you? My experience with tea is valid and my own!

Forgive my generalisation and I do respect but have not discredited your experience which is as much helpful to enlighten the tea community as a whole. I Stressed a point for Tea because its second to water as the most consumed beverage that has touched the lives of those tending the crops and consuming it. Maybe I have looked into the topic of tea as a social aspect far too much? Could that be a problem for you?


Bonnie said

I like you being Tony! Hey Tony, ….what do I know really is very little. A speck! I can hardly pronounce some of the names of the tea’s I drink. I am too simple. I am still, I drink my tea, I listen.

I love that sentiment.
“I am still, I drink my tea, I listen.”
Well said.

Raritea said

One thing that makes me feel really good about tea is that it keeps me hydrated and replaces a lot of the sugary juice that I usually tend to consume with my diet. I love the learning process involved in refining my taste palate to properly appreciate every sip. Tea has the ability to make me really sit down and live in the moment to truly appreciate every nuance the flavour has to offer.

Well said Raritea! Tea has properties much like some foods that requires a person not only too eat but to enjoy its essence by itself and whatever the accompaniment ( social or otherwise).

Epi Tea said

Tea is one of those things that results in personal ritual as well as community sharing. That’s why I like it so much! That and the caffeine…

Epi Tea said

The word “tea” refers specifically to the leaves harvested from the camellia sinensis plant. As was mentioned above, Tea is very sensitive to environmental conditions. Just how grapes grown in the same place in two back to back years can have totally different wine tastes, so can tea. This is due to environmental factors such as rainfall, soil nutrition etc.

Moreover, the tea plant has an immense amount of health benefits. From anti-oxidants and cancer fighting agents, it is a truly healthy drink. You might also be wondering why Tea has caught on in the world. It is the most popular beverage in the world second only to water itself. Factors contributing to this popularity are its availability and cost, as well as the fact that it is habit forming due to its caffeine content. Just as coffee is. It is important to note that tea is naturally caffeinated, and any decaffeinated tea (that is not herbal) has gone through a destructive process which takes a great deal away from its health benefits.

Now, with the technicalities aside. I would agree with Invader Zim. Tea has become such a powerful cultural force in the world. Yet despite this great power, each and every one of us can make our own unique connection to tea. We all have something to share with it, and it with us. Cultures around the world have developed rituals around tea that involve heavily the act of socialization and sharing. Tea is something that brings people together and unites them in something common, even if they come from different backgrounds.

“Drink you tea slowly and reverently … only this moment is life” – Buddha

If you want to learn a bit more about tea culture check out these commentary articles I wrote:

Thanks for the thoughtful insight Epi! Its nice to see how people can see more in a beverage than just by the sum of itself entirely. I think tea itself in the modern world is very a slowed paced affair than the “eat on the go” foods nowadays enjoyed by most and myself (admittedly). Mentality has changed a bit depending where your in the world, but has given way to something a bit fast, generic, “tasty”, and cheap than has come to dominate much of the food scene except in old school cultures. It may or may not come to a person mind nowadays to be aware of benefits and the character of a food which translates the same attitude towards tea. The attitude goes " as long its filling, damn good, cheap and plentiful nothing else matters", its pains me to see how great social customs die to this attitude and how foods like tea just becomes nothing more than a fix. To see food and tea in another way in terms of what it comes to symbolize, what it represents can really be so rewarding than just sating thirst. To me…I think we need back the dinner table and a tea set to chat catch up not get caught up not scurry about to much.

p.s. I’ll check up on that blog of yours I think it will be great!

Epi Tea said

I agree with you on the culture change. Although as far as tea is concerned at least, it’s non-appreciation by the popular masses is almost exclusively an American problem. Most other countries drink tea heavily on a daily basis. On the food in general I cannot speak much about the rest of the world because I do not know much, except that in France meals, particularly dinner, take up hours of the evening

ilovetea1 said

Tea is magic. when i drink some japanese tea, i feel like I’m in nature its so awesome.
sometimes when i drink chinese oolong, it feels like I’m drinking a magic cure, wich is cleaning my organs and strengthens my body.
its not only about taste, its about meditation and its also good to get rid of bad habits.

i even like to look and my japanese cups when drinking tea.. i know they are just white but still its so fascinating when in a world we live in somebody put so much quality in just a white cup. people in the west don’t understand… but i look at it its so thin, to fragile you can see your hand through it even so its white when holding….
i love the smell of tea… i love how japanese always smells like green and how chinese tea always have that magic smell when it comes to oolongs.
tea is so awesome, its a shame I’m sensitive to caffeine, i would drink it all day.

sometimes its even magical to watch chinese people doing tea, when they heat the small cups and then they pour the water from one cup in the other while the green tea steps…
and in the last cup they leave the water and wash the other cups in it…
sometimes you have tea wich doesn’t smell like anything and then you pour water over it and its like a beauty awaking from a dream you have all that magical smells in the world, like its some kind of ancient i don’t know…

sometimes when you drink tea it also feels like you are doing are journey….

Epi Tea said

There are a lot of rituals surrounding tea in the east. They bring that sense of meditation you were talking about into tea drinking. I have never actually experienced a tea ceremony first hand but I have seen a couple of videos on youtube. One that really struck me was this one I posted in another discussion on Steepster:

tea has become my go to drink. i have saved hundreds of calories every day since i have been sipping tea. there is such a variety with in each category of tea, from whites to puers. you are sure to find something to like.

Epi Tea said

I agree, there is a tea out there for everyone. With hundreds of varieties, it becomes quite a personalized experience.

Well, first for me it was a comfort thing… and still is, from time to time. It was what I drank at my great grandma’s when I visited and something I sipped when alone curled up in a chair before others woke when I was at my father’s.

Now, as I’ve moved past bags of Lipton and Red Rose into the endless sea of tea it’s become about the variety, the new flavors, unexpected new favorites, brewing methods, teapot preferences, and so on. Finding and sitting down with something that is so simple but so delicious.

And I’ll admit, there is also a snobbery to it, like learning wine (another hobby/interest of mine… I grew up in wine country and it’s been a firm part of my growing-up).

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