Whether you enjoy it with buttered toast at breakfast or drink it as a passed down remedy, tea has become a drink that took the world by storm. With its humble beginnings starting in 2700 BCE, it has since been used as a trading tool, a medicinal beverage, and for overall enjoyment.
According to National Geographic, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world, excluding water with 6 billion cups consumed around the world every day. The legacy of tea started around 2750 BCE in China. Emperor Shen Nung was boiling drinking water when the leaves of a wild tea tree flew into his water. The leaves gave the water an amazing flavor and the Emperor urged his people to start cultivating the plant. The first Europeans to drink tea were Dutch in 1610. It then spread to the British in 1650, where it quickly took over wine and coffee as the drink of choice. Due to the loss of taxes with the decrease of liquor sales, Britain started taxing tea in the 13 colonies. Due to the several taxes the colonies faced, the Sons of Liberty organized the Boston Tea Party, in which they threw 342 boxes of tea into the Boston Harbor. Tea assisted the colonists with the revolution against the British.
With the several types of tea, comes the several types of health benefits. According to The Tea Spot, tea can help with restoring bone density, prevent osteoporosis, and prevent fractures. Researchers have found that compared to non-drinkers, those who regularly drank tea had stronger bones, regardless of age, weight, exercise, smoking, and other risk factors. Tea also benefits your brain health. The compound Catechins, found in tea, helps prevent the buildup of a protein that reduces cognitive function. Like coffee, tea also contains caffeine but in addition to the caffeine, it also contains theanine, a compound the contradicts the harsh side effects of caffeine. In additon, tea prevents cancer. A study at the Mayo Clinic showed that components in green tea may help kill cancer cells in common forms of leukemia by cutting off the communication signals of the cells. Another way tea helps fight cancer is the prevention of cell mutation. The polyphenols in tea have antioxidative actions that prevent the mutation of healthy DNA.
In Japan, there is a special ritual dedicated to the serving and the enjoyment of tea, known as the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Here at Asheville Middle, Ms. Robert, a seventh teacher, had the opportunity to host this ceremony in her class. I was able to interview her about this unique experience.
What is the history of the Japanese Tea Ceremony?
1. There is a very long history of the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Here's my favorite website for all the details. It dates back over a 1000 years so there's much history
How do you think your students benefitted from it?
2. Yes! And they enjoyed the matcha (ceremonial tea) we just had in class
Why did you decide to host this event in your classroom?
3. There were two reasons for the ceremony; (1) for students to see the focus and mindfulness necessary to complete 194 steps in serving a cup of tea and (2) to help students gain "cultural capital." When students are exposed to different cultures and the traditions and behaviors, students gain a greater understanding, appreciation, and comfort of other people. It's how peace between nations can be achieved. It's also a lot of fun! The students showed great self-control and respect to Emiko Suzuki by being silent during the ceremony and with their thoughtful questions. She had fun too!
Are there any additional comments you would like to make?
4. We were very fortunate to have this opportunity; Emiko San traveled to Japan this week! She is a master in Ikebana (flower arrangements) and the Tea Ceremony. Many people will never have this opportunity.
Need more motivation to drink tea? Try this southern sweet tea recipe courtesy of Allrecipes. You will need a pinch of baking soda, 2 cups of boiling water, 6 tea bags, ¾ cups of sugar, and 6 cups of water. Sprinkle a pinch of baking soda into a 64-ounce, heat-proof, glass pitcher. Pour in boiling water, and add tea bags. Cover, and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Remove tea bags, and discard; stir in sugar until dissolved. Pour in cool water, then refrigerate until cold. That’s it! A perfect drink on a hot summer day. If you’re feeling something hot, chai lattes are just what you need. You will need 2 tea bags, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground allspice, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of milk, ¼ cup packed brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons refrigerated French vanilla nondairy creamer. Place the tea bags, cinnamon, ginger and allspice in the coffee filter of a drip coffeemaker. Add water; brew according to manufacturer's directions. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the milk, brown sugar and creamer. Cook and stir over medium heat until heated through and sugar is dissolved. Pour milk mixture into mugs; stir in tea. Dollop with whipped topping and sprinkle with nutmeg if desired. Recipe from Taste Of Home.
Story by Erin Chen
Green tea. Picture credit: https://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/gcms/Green-Tea-Health-Benefits-of-Green-Tea-You-Never-Knew-08-722x406.jpg?width=684