If you’re like me and millions of others across the world, the arrival of another New Year leads you to reflect on the year that’s been and how you would like to shape the year to come. You might have written a list of goals or simply thought about what you would like to do more or less of. As a tea lover since childhood and trained tea master, I realise I’m more biased than most when it comes to tea, but here’s eight reasons why I think you should add drinking more (good quality) tea to your New Year’s resolution list.
1. Experience new, thought-provoking flavours
Single origin, loose leaf tea has a flavour profile as varied and interesting as wine. You can experience floral, buttery notes from a high mountain Taiwanese oolong; red berry, chocolate and wood notes from a Chinese black; or flavours of green vegetables, fruit and ocean air from a shaded Japanese green tea. Across the six types of tea – white, green, yellow, oolong, black and dark – the diversity of flavours is enormous. Discovering the flavour nuances and learning about the background of each type is a fascinating experience – one that will forever change the way you think about tea.
2. It’s good for your brain
The clever combination of the amino acid L-theanine and caffeine in tea has been shown to improve brain function. L-theanine increases alpha waves in the brain, improving cognitive performance and mental focus as well as inducing a state of calm. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that boosts wakefulness, improves our mood and enhances how focused and alert we feel.
3. And its good for your body
Tea contains antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals and, while its not a panacea, it is universally recognised as a natural, healthy beverage, making it a great addition to a healthy diet. Research shows tea consumption can prevent or improve cancer outcomes, boost your immune system, reduce cholesterol and support weight-loss.
4. Tea pairs perfectly with food
The diversity of tea’s flavour profile, its mouthfeel and differing intensities and weights make it the perfect companion to food; and the huge number of different types of tea out there and give you so much choice when it comes to selecting a tea to match with a dish. Paired well, tea enhances the flavour and experience of the food you are eating. It’s a nice alternative or accompaniment to wine pairing.
5. It’s a great substitute to alcohol
If you’re looking to cut back on alcohol or completely eliminate it, speciality tea’s flavour profile and its ability to pair with food make it a worthy alternative. You can taste and evaluate a tea’s flavour profile the same way as you do with wine. And from all of my tea tasting, I have discovered first hand that there is such a thing as a tea high…
6. Tea can help you cut back on coffee or dairy
If one of your goals this year is to cut back on caffeine-loaded coffee or dairy, specialty tea can fill the void. A cup of tea has roughly a third of the caffeine content of a cup of coffee and the tannins in the tea stabilise the caffeine’s effect, causing the caffeine to be released more slowly than in coffee. Good quality tea also tastes better on its own, without milk. Adding milk, even to a black tea, dulls and dilutes its flavour profile and reduces your experience of the tea.
7. It can improve your daily mindfulness practice
Tea is a very sensory experience that lends itself easily to the brain-boosting practice of mindfulness. Most tea drinkers have at least one cup of tea each day, making it the perfect way to integrate mindfulness into your daily routine. Find out how here.
8. Elevate your tea drinking status
In New Zealand we have an incredibly high standard of wine, craft beer, coffee and even kombucha and smoothies. Yet, the majority of cafes, restaurants and our kitchen cupboards include an unadventurous (and often poor quality) selection of tea – typically English Breakfast, Earl Grey, flavoured blends and a non-descript green in addition to herbal infusions (which technically aren’t tea). The good news is there are thousands of different types of hand-crafted tea produced across the world, each with deep and fascinating flavour profiles, so you easily can up your tea game and follow tea drinkers in-the-know across the world by choosing high quality, single-origin tea.
~ the serene image above is courtesy of Debby Hudson @ Unsplash