• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

baroness

Tea – a trend or a way of life?

33 posts in this topic

While following another link to the NY Post, I saw this article on the fashionistas and tea here in New York.

Here's a brief quote: Tea, after all, is the perfect drink for frenzied New Yorkers with a big caffeine habit — but very little peace of mind. “Tea promotes harmony and balance of life,” Tam says. “The experience is not rushed. It’s refined and grounding. Drinking tea is an art of living.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tea has been my "way of life" for a long time and I am better off for it, I think. It is nice to see more of it catching on....


"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tea has been my beverage for all my life, but I do not think of it as a way of life. It is a drink. I drink wine at night too, but that is not a life style. Tea is tea, you can make up a whole ethos around it, but the majority of people who drink it in the world are not over moneyed New Yorkers, and they drink as a drink not some life style decision.

There are a lot of people with too much money and too much time that want to buy into a pre made life style. Tea is as good as anything else I guess. People write articles like that about foot wear too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is pretty funny stuff. People drink tea the world over and it's just not a big deal. It starts to catch on in NY, and now it's newspaper-worthy.

Next week's report: "Bread: are you cool enough?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know! People drink tea everywhere - and have for many, many years!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tea is a way of life for most people in most parts of the world for thousands and thousands of years. Isn't it the most widely drunk beverage in the world, next to water (no citations - can't recall where I read this)? Those who already incorporate tea into their everyday lives will continue to do so, and it's not a trend for them. Those who see it as the current cool thing will jump on the bandwagon, embrace the "way of life"/harmony/relaxation idea of it for a short time, then move on to the next fashionable thing. Buying into a tea lifestyle seems pretty pretentious to me.

I don't know if I would say tea is a "way of life" for me or not. I drink tea everyday, and have since I was a small kid. It's a coffee-soda-juice alternative, jolt of caffeine in the morning, post-meal digestive - there's lots of reasons for drinking it. It's part of my daily life. But it doesn't mean I'm buying into the harmony/balance thing whenever I take a sip of my Ti Kuan Yin oolong.

On the other hand, I do like that tea is getting more attention, trend or not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Twenty-some years ago it was difficult to find premium teas unless you lived in a fairly large city or near an ethnic enclave where tea was the beverage of choice, or took the time to winkle out a mail order source - those little ads in the back of food magazines were my main source.

In the mid-to-late '80s and early '90s more people began learning about and drinking tea and there were discussion about tea on user groups (CompuServe was my first-and most expensive) and later message boards on Prodigy and Genie and still later AOL(not for long, I hated it).

As the "secrets" of tea were revealed and various mail order sources were shared, more and more people discovered that tea could be a lot more than the ubiquitous Lipton, Red Rose and etc.

With the advent of the WW internet and ISPs that were a lot cheaper than CompuServe, the community of tea drinkers expanded exponentially and continues to do so to date.

Some tea ideas are "trendy" and for some people it is a way of life because they like it. For most people it is an enjoyable drink that can be enjoyed at any time of the day or evening. Decaf teas and the herbal infusions are tastier than decaf coffees IMHO.

I have been a Teamail subscriber since it began in '98 - there had previously been a tea discussion group whose members migrated to TeaMail.

As others have noted, in other parts of the world tea is simply the everyday beverage of choice.

Only in America will one see an article about tea being "fashionable" or "trendy."


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think these trends are actually beneficial, because product by product they educate the general public and raise the standard for quality, and the standard remains raised even after the trend dies. Even if the new silly trend is tea, people are not going to go back to the sour, burned coffee that used to be perfectly acceptable before the coffee craze. There's still a lot of crap on the market, and there always will be, but overall I think the bar has been raised. You can make similar arguments for all kinds of foods that have been the subject of foodie trends: pasta, olive oil, chocolate, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wait, wasn't that the trend last year? Or the 90s? I seem to recollect there being an outbreak of tea shops over New York City during the late 90s.

Tea can be a great beverage, sometimes the only one that seems right for a given moment, and a I know heaps of people who favour tea, but I don't know any who consider it 'a way of life' or any sort of 'lifestyle' thing... that just sounds odd. 'Trend' seems odd too... a bit like describing socks as a trend/way of life.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree it's silly-- but maybe if it catches on, we'll finally be able to get decent tea in more restaurants. I hate going to a good restauarant, enjoying an excellent meal, and then finding that the only tea on offer is Lipton.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree it's silly-- but maybe if it catches on, we'll finally be able to get decent tea in more restaurants. I hate going to a good restauarant, enjoying an excellent meal, and then finding that the only tea on offer is Lipton.

:angry: Not ONLY that it's only Lipton, but that the water is nowhere nearly hot enough and may taste somewhat like coffee. :angry:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree it's silly-- but maybe if it catches on, we'll finally be able to get decent tea in more restaurants. I hate going to a good restauarant, enjoying an excellent meal, and then finding that the only tea on offer is Lipton.

:angry: Not ONLY that it's only Lipton, but that the water is nowhere nearly hot enough and may taste somewhat like coffee. :angry:

Far too many times it isn't even Lipton. It is some generic thing sold at restaurant supply places that is made from "sweepings" of tea dust. God only knows how long it has been since it was packaged.

When I was still working, our office (3 doctors 15 employees) had a "coffee & tea service" that supplied everything, including tea bags and herbal tea bags with no brand name on any, only the name of the service. The black tea was pretty bad but the green tea was horrible and smelled like it had been under a cat box for some years. None of us ever drank the stuff, we brought our own and I finally insisted that they stopped stocking it and adjust the cost. The rep told me that they didn't charge for the tea at all because it was so cheap! :blink:


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is to weep.

And shall I mention the coffee shops where they give you only one tea bag no matter the size of the cup you've ordered? But, they cheerfully tell you, you can get a refill of the lukewarm water! And resteep the sad, overworked little teabag!

I read a thread from a while back here lamenting bad tea in restaurants. Apparently it's too expensive to offer? What with the china walking off and all? I'm not sure I buy it-- personally, I'd be fine with someone bringing me a prepared cup of tea, no teapot, no strainer, if it were well made. (You know, like they do with coffee).

Maybe if tea became a "way of life" for more Americans, they'd find a way to make it work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been a tea drinker my entire life and this concept of tea as a trend sort of bothers me. That being said, I don't know if tea is a "way of life" but it certainly is a very big "part of life," and I lament the as-yet lowly status and shabby preparation of tea across most of America (and, for that matter, Lebanon). I really would like somewhere where I could get a proper cup of tea without going to a zen-like environment or specifying the variety. Sometimes I just want some good, well-made black tea without a fuss, but for that I either need to be at home or in a country where tea is equally a part of everyday life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello- I know its a very long piece, but this is interesting reading on the subject of tea as a way of life:  http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/tea.htm


Edited by Naftal (log)

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, that is a long article Naftal--if I had more time to read through it I would. 

 

I just wanted to say, that after reading a lot of negative responses against "tea as a way of life", I think that in many ways tea can be a "way of life" that seems to be overlooked by many. 

 

Growing up Chinese, drinking tea after dinner (especially after a post-dinner evening stroll) was very much a ritual and "way of life" in the sense that it functioned as a tradition. Drinking tea together is symbolic of the companionship and familial ties of everyone at peace together. It was an appreciation of simple togetherness. Much like sitting around a table and eating dinner together with one's family is a "way of life", drinking tea with the family in this manner is a "way of life". 

 

There is also a form of tea ritual in Chinese culture known as "gongfu" tea, or literally translated as "effort tea", because it demands effort of the tea drinker to brew. It is a time-consuming process that uses a gongfu tea set and requires multiple steps before the tea can be drunk. In this way, the effort of making gongfu tea forces one to slow down and be solely attentive to the tea ritual. Gongfu tea may not be a "way of life" in that people practice it constantly (though some, like my uncle, do as a way of relaxation), but the elements of attentiveness and appreciation of little details can very much be extended into other aspects of life and thus manifest as "a way of life". 

 

Though I can't speak for other cultures, I don't doubt that each one with a history of tea has its own traditions that can arguably make tea "a way of life". English afternoon tea, for instance.

 

Anyways, I hope this makes a distinction between tea as "a way of life" for my cultural background and the trend of tea as "a way of life". Though I do think that the adoption of drinking tea to symbolize an appreciation for balance in life is a worthy pursuit (even if the "tea partiers" aren't quite going about it right). 


"Plants, like algebra, have a habit of looking alike and being different, or looking different and being alike; consequently mathematics and botany confuse me."

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree it's silly-- but maybe if it catches on, we'll finally be able to get decent tea in more restaurants. I hate going to a good restauarant, enjoying an excellent meal, and then finding that the only tea on offer is Lipton.

Excellent point ... I would add the hot beverage offerings in hotel rooms, where it seems a 10-year old wrinkled packet of herbal tea is acceptable!  I carry my China black tea bags with me...


*****

"Did you see what Julia Child did to that chicken?" ... Howard Borden on "Bob Newhart"

*****

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had The Book of Tea for a very long time - my copy was published in the 1960s - and exhibits the traits of a well-thumbed book that has been read many times.

Reprints are available on Amazon or your can go to ABEbooks and get one of the earlier editions - nothing has changed since the author died in 1919.

 

It is still an interesting read, although there are newer books that bring our understanding of tea and the tea trade up to date.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

. . . . 

 

 

I just wanted to say, that after reading a lot of negative responses against "tea as a way of life", I think that in many ways tea can be a "way of life" that seems to be overlooked by many. 

 

 

. . .

 

 

As one of the contributors of a negative response, my negative reaction was to the whole 'tea as trend' thing, which attempted to take something that I've been familiar with my entire life as being a part of the way of life in many cultures, and treat it as though they'd made a fresh discovery which no one else could possibly hope to understand. That's just aggravating.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perspective from the UK

 

Along with most of my compatriots, I drink tea several times a day and would consider my hospitality derelict if I didn't offer a cup to someone visiting the house, so I also find the idea of a tea trend comical.

 

However, knowledge about the grades and styles of tea has increased greatly since I was a child (it used to be either builder's tea - stewed, milky and dangerously sweet - or herbal infusions, which you had to buy in herbalists or healthfood shops and which most people considered highly suspect), and that seems to have occurred on the back of the greater interest in coffee that took off in the UK around 2000. A Japanese tea-house opened in my small hometown a few years ago, for instance, after all the traditional British tea-houses closed because of Starbucks and similar, and you can buy numerous types of tea in any supermarket.

 

The thing that needs to happen next is for Starbucks and the far more careful and specialist coffee-shops that have followed it to learn how to make tea. I always drink coffee for a hot drink when not at home because a lousy cup of tea is just so woeful, but I would often prefer a decent cuppa. It's surprising that they still don't serve tea, given that it is the preferred beverage of the nation,  the preparation of which most master in childhood. The coffee trend has benefitted recognition of tea but is currently hampering its realisation.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perspective from the UK

 

Along with most of my compatriots, I drink tea several times a day and would consider my hospitality derelict if I didn't offer a cup to someone visiting the house, so I also find the idea of a tea trend comical.

 

Same perspective as growing up Iraqi and going to London frequently (and having a UK-educated mother)!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Same perspective as growing up Iraqi and going to London frequently (and having a UK-educated mother)!

 

We trained her well... :biggrin:

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Indeed! So much in fact, that 9 times out of 10 she drinks her tea with milk, which most Iraqis never do

 

This has inspired me to put the kettle on right now.


Edited by Hassouni (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, that is a long article Naftal--if I had more time to read through it I would. 

 

 

I just wanted to say, that after reading a lot of negative responses against "tea as a way of life", I think that in many ways tea can be a "way of life" that seems to be overlooked by many. 

 

 

Growing up Chinese, drinking tea after dinner (especially after a post-dinner evening stroll) was very much a ritual and "way of life" in the sense that it functioned as a tradition. Drinking tea together is symbolic of the companionship and familial ties of everyone at peace together. It was an appreciation of simple togetherness. Much like sitting around a table and eating dinner together with one's family is a "way of life", drinking tea with the family in this manner is a "way of life". 

 

 

There is also a form of tea ritual in Chinese culture known as "gongfu" tea, or literally translated as "effort tea", because it demands effort of the tea drinker to brew. It is a time-consuming process that uses a gongfu tea set and requires multiple steps before the tea can be drunk. In this way, the effort of making gongfu tea forces one to slow down and be solely attentive to the tea ritual. Gongfu tea may not be a "way of life" in that people practice it constantly (though some, like my uncle, do as a way of relaxation), but the elements of attentiveness and appreciation of little details can very much be extended into other aspects of life and thus manifest as "a way of life". 

 

 

Though I can't speak for other cultures, I don't doubt that each one with a history of tea has its own traditions that can arguably make tea "a way of life". English afternoon tea, for instance.

 

 

Anyways, I hope this makes a distinction between tea as "a way of life" for my cultural background and the trend of tea as "a way of life". Though I do think that the adoption of drinking tea to symbolize an appreciation for balance in life is a worthy pursuit (even if the "tea partiers" aren't quite going about it right). 

Hello- Tea is also a way of life for me. I find that the Chinese tea ritual mentioned above has always touched something deep within me. I will not demean the tradition by calling my practice "Gongfu" because I have not spent a life-time practicing it. But, I do prepare tea in a similar manner-I do use a gongfu tea set. Also, I wanted to share a link to a much shorter webpage that reflects my interest in the connections between the Chinese tea tradition and Chinese Philosophy/Religion:               http://www.apotoftea.com/philosophy.html


"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.