UD is a tea freak (as faithful readers of her blog know), so she’s stood around watching for decades as people predict this country’s Big Tea Breakthrough. Here’s the latest on that, from a writer who went to a tea convention.

…The tech and gaming worlds have embraced tea as both a nerdy cool hobby and a type of a natural wonder drug to help with focus whilst on all-night coding/gaming soirees, and that has created a marketplace for a certain type of high-end buyer who didn’t exist before…

[At the convention,] I had tea made from the avocado leaves, and adaptogenic teas (“Big with endurance athletes!”) that contained CBD and turmeric, and white champagne raspberry tea, and a Belgium lemongrass chai tea and Kenyan purple tea, and red rooibos tea, and Lapsang Souchong black tea and Darjeeling black tea and Assam black tea and Ceylon black tea and moringa tea and Sri Lankan mango iced tea and “Got Nitro” iced tea slush, and something called “duck shit fragrance oolong,” which is a real thing. I had Psychic Teaz from a man named Dr. Brains (a name Oprah gave him, FYI) who used to travel with the Grateful Dead and other musicians in the ’70s to help them maintain their health while on long tours, and Lover Tea from Vietnam with a college-aged translator who told me it grows in craters made during American bombing missions during the Vietnam War, and Matcha Kaori tea blended with what looked like a shaving cream brush by Japanese tea farmer Kunikazu Mochitani…

Tea is the perfect cultural drink for right now. It has such a big tent — you can like it for the caffeine kick, or the rituals, or the scientific experiments in brewing time and temperature, or the cool hobbyist gear, or the Eastern religious undertones, or the dietary benefits, or matcha’s Instagram friendly coloring. You can like it because it separates you out, or pulls you into a new community, because it makes you feel simultaneously like an outsider and an insider. 

UD has sequential tea enthusiasms. Right now she’s mad for this, which as you can see she buys in bulk (through Amazon).

Makes excellent hot or iced tea (UD overwhelmingly drinks hot).

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4 Responses to “Tea is always on the verge of making it really big in America.”

  1. Ravi Narasimhan Says:

    Never understood the appeal of tea. Tried many different kinds and styles but it all tastes like hot water with a crayon color in it. Even tried many of the recommendations in this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le6vodQGeVI

    with no results (although, I did not use their high-end product.)

    Key finding: Oxygen is bad for tea except when brewing when it is essential. Unfortunately, heating liquids to boil or near boil removes gases.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Ravi: And I’m going to guess from your name that you’re of Indian extraction! I thought it was required for Indians to love tea… I’m going also to guess that you’ve been drinking heavy coffee for years? After that, even strong tea will taste weak.

    That being said, there are remarkable numbers of teas that indeed taste like nothing. When I get out of my gym, I mindlessly go to the Starbucks one hundred yards away and order their plain black iced tea. For almost three dollars, I get a drink that tastes like nothing. I really do have to think about why I do this.

    And about that YouTube you sent me – oh, brother. Snobby and fussy and basically a very long justification of no doubt ridiculous tea prices at their restaurants. Puh-leeze.

  3. Ravi Narasimhan Says:

    “And I’m going to guess from your name that you’re of Indian extraction! ”

    No, Swiss. This way we don’t offend anybody. [1]

    Actually, I am from South India where coffee rightly rules amongst the righteous and right-thinking, unlike those shifty tea-swilling running dogs of the North. [2]

    From what I have read, aroma is a very big part of the tea equation. I think my taste buds are all right despite decades of coffee and spicy food. My nose may not have what it takes to enjoy it.

    I thought the TeaLeaves prep video was nicely done despite rolling my eyes at the physical chemistry. They have made “Color In Sight,” a Helvetica-like film about color’s impact on design and designers.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhmoFo3cGDQ

    [1] Nebus, J.”The Stan Freberg Show: My Recaps, Collected”
    https://nebushumor.wordpress.com/tag/the-stan-freberg-show/ December 2018

    [2] DeLillo, D. “Running Dog” Alfred A. Knopf – 1978
    My first and possibly last DeLillo novel.

  4. Anon Says:

    You’re not a real tea freak until you fall down the rabbit hole of Upton’s single estate teas. I’m not sure when I became a tea snob, but most of the teas in your original post sound horrifying to me. (Avocado leaves, seriously? Those can’t be healthy). And I only watched a couple minutes of that video before seeing some egregious errors.

    I just went to a talk by a tea historian who claimed that tea drinking is less common among younger generations of Indians, which is ominous for the industry.

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