Us tea drinkers have been kind of sidelined over the last twenty years by the rather aggressive rise of the coffee shop and its dominance on the high street. Dark wooden surfaces, snotty velour sofas and macci-cremalattes with a dash of weird nut syrup!
Don't get me wrong, I have spent many hours in coffee shops meeting friends and having relaxed business meetings but have always felt slightly cheated that I have to pay a fairly hefty price for a pretty sad dusty tea bag hanging out of a paper cup! I have to be totally honest when I say that I actually wish I liked the taste of coffee, it used to seem like such a seriously grown up thing to enjoy, but actually I have come to realise that there is something more to drinking tea than first appears. Let's not forget that people call it the Great British Cuppa for a reason! Tea makes you stop, and lets face it, in this ridiculously manic world isn't it about time that we chilled out a bit really and stopped taking ourselves so seriously?
Observe the coffee drinker, rushing in and ordering a double shot espresso before knocking it back and rushing back out there to attack the day. God forbid the world has gone on without them and they have missed something. The deal, the rush, the point!
Then turn your attention to the tea drinker, somehow this ritual is a little different. Stories are shared among friends, secrets are told and the world put to right. There's a real joy in preparing a proper cuppa and waiting for the brew. It all seems slightly more ritualistic in a chatty, open and down to earth kind of way.
The great British cuppa has always been dear to our hearts and is woven into the cultural fabric of everything truly British. To be completely nerdy about it all, research has shown that each British tea lover consumes on average 2.5 kg per year. And that's quite a few cuppas.
The Tea Council (yes, a council all about tea!) states on their web page that 165 million cups of tea are drunk daily, or 60.2 billion per year. In fact, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world after water! Most people enjoy the taste and the comfort of a lovely cup of tea, but I still haven't even mentioned the antioxidants and polyphenols and don't get me started on the reduced caffeine! I will stop for fear of becoming evangelical.
Tea has been around for centuries and of course its health benefits speak for themselves. I am glad to see it re-emerging as the drink of our times. So let's embrace it and all take a bit of time now and again to re-connect with ourselves and each other over a lovely cup of tea. Forget the rush; it will all still be there on your return! What's more, when you do go back out into the world it always seems that you and the world are in a better place. And I wouldn't change that for all the tea in China!
So that says it all really, I rest my case in the war between bean or leaf. Tea is hardly the poor relation and it's set to become the new kid on the block.