Tea is magical. There is something so primal about it; is it because it comes from herbs? Is it the link between health and illness - prepared for us by loving hands when we're gripped with chills and fever? Or is it the association with British ritual, drinking tea like an elixir, like water, like the juice of the earth itself, warming us and making us whole?
Whatever the reason, tea has been with us for centuries and continues to play a major role in our perpetual drive toward luxury, comfort and health. Beginning in China and making its way to Japan, India, England, Scotland and America, and then the world, tea has been known to both raise and lower social status, to decrease alcohol consumption due to its popularity, to be the cause of the breakdown of family life as women took to spending time with other women at "tea parties" and, lately, as a sort of dietary tonic in the form of green tea pills, powders, smoothies and shakes.
For a history and timeline of tea, please click on the following link:
Even though there are so many colors of tea, they are all essentially taken from the same plant, albeit in different stages of fermentation and processing. As one website points out: "The tea plant is an evergreen of the Camellia family that is native to China, Tibet and northern India. There are two main varieties of the tea plant. The small leaf variety, known as Camellia sinensis, thrives in the cool, high mountain regions of central China and Japan. The broad leaf variety, known as Camellia assamica, grows best in the moist, tropical climates found in Northeast India and the Szechuan and Yunnan provinces of China. The plant produces dark green, shiny leaves and small, white blossoms." For more on the plant that tea comes from, click on this link: http://www.thefragrantleaf.com/teaplanandte.html
Tea is also a wonderfully versatile drink. Iced tea, diet tea, tea with fruit flavors and undertones, the variety and forms are vast. Boba tea, also known as "bubble tea," is a fantastic milky delight with tapioca balls and a giant straw that is as fun to drink as it is delicious. For more on boba tea, follow this link:
Finally, having "high tea," in the English style, is a wonderfully semi-formal way of celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions in a delightfully decadent manner. Plus the clotted cream is out of this world. So look for your specialty teas and, as fall and winter are upon us, curl up with a hot chai latte and nurture your inner tea loving self.
Aimee Boyle is a mom and teacher in CT. She writes regularly for EmpowHER.