We know that tea dramatically influenced the Japanese culture, or perhaps its better said that the Japanese culture influenced tea. In either case, tea has been fully infused into daily life in Japan to this day. You can find it at every meal and in a wide variety of goods including ice cream. Tea plants dot the mountains of Japan, and the people here have cultivated a potent green tea that’s unique and well suited to their pallet. But the history of tea certainly doesn’t stop at the shore of the Pacific Ocean.
On the other side of the world, tea impacted American society in both bold and subtle ways. By World War I, consumers were enjoying both hot and cold tea readily and even buying specialized glasses for its consumption. When the Prohibition hit, tea’s popularity skyrocketed. Various ice tea recipes dotted cookbooks, particularly in the Southern United States. Here, sweet tea was common but in place of lemon you might find fresh mint, orange slices or even a cherry.
Come World War II the key sources for green tea had been cut off. That left Americans with Indian tea controlled by the British. Thus, where we once were drinking green tea nearly exclusively, black tea now adorned the family table.
1990s and Beyond
In 1995 South Carolina named tea as the official beverage, promoting good old fashioned hospitality. In 2004, John Noel the representative for Georgia introduced a House Bill that would require all restaurants in Georgia to serve sweet tea. The endeavor was a bit of a joke, but one that spoke to the heart of southern tea drinkers.
If you watch TV or surf the internet, you’ll be hard pressed not to find something about tea. One ad might promote it as a refreshing beverage, another offer it as an adjunct to diet and exercise, and others still push cups of tea as healthy.
Tea and Health
One of the biggest facilitators for tea sales in modern times has been the focus on healthy living. Tea, particularly green tea, is rich in anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants fight age-related disorders and deter various signs of aging like wrinkles. While healers throughout history prescribed tea for any number of health issues, science now supports that prescription.
As a result green tea and tea extracts have begun appearing in all manner of consumables from vitamins and juices to energy drinks. You’ll also find tea in cosmetics and even deodorant! You can brew wine or beer with tea, use tea as a marinade, add tea to bread for flavoring, put tea bags on weary eyes for relief, – really, the options are nearly endless. Being creative with tea is a tradition around the world.
It would seem that tea has a bold and promising future among humankind that continues to evolve as do we. So put on that tea pot, wait for the whistle, and enjoy being part of the tea culture that just continues to grow.