Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
by Wayne Campbell
“The very act of preparing and serving tea encourages conversation. The little spaces in time created by teatime rituals call out to be filled with conversation. – Emile Straker
What is your favourite tea? Peppermint ranks at the top as my favourite tea. As youngsters we had a huge mint tree at the front of the yard.
It was common for passersby to stop and ask for some of the mint which was noticeable in the yard.
It seems the more we gave away the mint the more the tree flourished.
Tea preparation allows for some level of experiment and many of us are guilty of that.
However, since the COVID-19 pandemic many of us have turned to turmeric and ginger as well as fever grass, ginger and garlic teas in order to boost the immune system.
For many of us, myself included the day cannot begin without having a cup of tea. Perhaps this is tradition and largely based on how one is socialised. In the Jamaican society there is a tea for almost every ailment.
As children we heard of and drank a number of cups of cerasse tea for belly aches.
The cerasse tea is bitter in taste and oftentimes is made without milk or sugar. Ginger tea is used for upset stomach and nausea.
While the Chamomile and sour-sop teas are used to treat insomnia. My mom always saves the orange rind or the peel of the orange in order to make tea.
The outer skin of the citric fruits tastes bitter due to the presence of flavonoids, which protect the fruit from pests. It contains the highest concentration
of flavonoids than any other part of the fruit.
This tea may also help to prevent and manage many chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes
The tea made from orange peel has never appealed to me, however, one of these days out of curiosity I plan to give it a try. T
here are of course some religious groups such as the Rastafarians who would be more inclined to the ganja tea given that ganja is one of the symbols of Rastafarianism. International Tea Day is about cultural diversity. Chai tea is another favourite for many individuals.
Chai is steeped in a rich history. The name “chai” is actually the Hindi word for “tea”, which was derived from “cha”, the Chinese word for “tea”.
In this case, the Hindi term chai means a mix of spices steeped into a tea-like beverage.
Recipes for chai vary across continents, cultures, towns and families. But the traditional ingredients of a spiced tea blend usually include black tea mixed with strong spices, like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and black peppercorns.
The spiced tea mixture is typically brewed strong with milk and sweetened with sugar or honey.
A story about tea would be incomplete without mentioning green tea. Green tea has been a popular drink as well as a traditional medicine in China and Japan for thousands of years.
While green tea is made from the same leaves as black tea, green tea leaves are not fermented. This not only preserves the tea’s green color but also enhances its antioxidant content, which may explain why it’s so healthful.
Many health benefit claims have been made about green tea for centuries. Traditionally, in China and India, green tea was a medicine for controlling bleeding, aiding digestion, and regulating body temperature.
In modern times, research has been able to demonstrate some of its health benefits more solidly than others.
One large study in Japan followed 40,000 adult participants over 11 years, and found that daily green tea consumption was linked to lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
In particular, the study was examining the link between the polyphenols (antioxidants) in green tea and cardiovascular diseases. The minimum
daily consumption required to see this benefit
was five cups per day.
Another large Japanese study, this one following more than 82,000 participants over 13 years, found that higher consumption rates of green tea were associated with reduced risk of stroke. Participants who drank four cups per day or more saw the “highest benefit.
There is a chemical explanation for why sipping a hot cup of green tea can be so relaxing. Tea along with some mushrooms contains an amino acid called theanine, which research has found may relieve stress and induce relaxation. ‘Research has also found that green tea can improve memory, partially thanks to its theanine content.
For example, a 2014 study published in Psychopharmacology of 12 healthy volunteers found that green tea extract improved subjects working memory a type of short-term memory important for planning, comprehension, reasoning, and problem-solving.
Protection against neurodegenerative diseases
Some research has found drinking green tea can protect against certain neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
This is likely due to green tea’s high concentration of powerful compounds called antioxidants, according to a 2019 research review published in Molecules. Antioxidants defend cells against damage that, over time, would otherwise lead to neurodegenerative diseases.
Can reduce blood pressure
In addition to lowering cholesterol levels, green tea may protect heart health by lowering blood pressure.
A 2020 meta-analysis in Medicine of 1,697 people found that drinking green tea significantly reduced blood pressure, particularly in those with high blood pressure and the greatest risk of cardiovascular disease.
It is safe to consume up to eight cups of green tea per day, per the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But the organisation cautions that high doses may interact with certain medications, like those for high blood pressure or heart problems.
‘While uncommon, liver problems have also been linked to the use of tea products, primarily green tea extracts taken in pill form. It is recommended that you purchase naturally decaffeinated green tea.
According to the Mayo Clinic one cup of green tea contains 28 grams of caffeine. For those sensitive to caffeine, this may cause anxiety, fast heart rate, and jitters. There are stories of medicinal value of a number of teas.
This knowledge of tea is almost legendary in our folklore. There are some folks who enjoy a cup or two of thyme and scallion teas. There are also those who cannot do without their coco tea.
There is something sipping a hot cup of chocolate that gets you going. There are so many varieties of teas to address the unique appetite of the tea drinker.
The United Nations (UN) states that tea is a beverage made from the Camellia sinesis plant. Tea is the world’s most consumed drink, after water.
It is believed that tea originated in northeast India, north Myanmar and southwest China, but the exact place where the plant first grew is not known. Tea has been with us for a long time.
There is evidence that tea was consumed in China 5,000 years ago. Tea production and processing constitutes a main source of livelihoods for millions of families in developing countries and is the main means of subsistence for millions of poor families, who live in a number of least developed countries.
The tea industry is a main source of income and export revenues for some of the poorest countries and, as a labour-intensive sector, provides jobs, especially in remote and economically disadvantaged areas.
Tea can play a significant role in rural development, poverty reduction and food security in developing countries, being one of the most important cash crops.
Tea consumption can bring health benefits and wellness due to the beverage’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and weight loss effects. It also has cultural significance in many societies.
International Tea Day is celebrated every year on the 21st of May. The first-ever International Tea Day was on 21st May 2020 and in the current year 2022; it is the third observance of this day. Tea day is a source to express the economical, biological and physical benefits of tea.
This year International Tea Day observance will happen with its full scope and importance.
The theme for International Tea Day is “Tea and Fair Trade”.
The basic purpose of this theme is to glorify the economical facts of tea, especially in the areas where it grows.
These areas are poverty trodden and its fair trade cannot only enhance their resources and access to the international market but can also be helpful in the eradication of poverty.
Tea and Climate Change
The UN declares that tea production is highly sensitive to changes in growing conditions. Tea can only be produced in narrowly defined agro-ecological conditions and, hence, in a very limited number of countries, many of which will be heavily impacted by climate change.
Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns, with more floods and droughts, are already affecting yields, tea product quality and prices, lowering incomes and threatening rural livelihoods. These climate changes are expected to intensify, calling for urgent adaptation measures.
In parallel, there is a growing recognition of the need to contribute to climate change mitigation, by reducing carbon emissions from tea production and processing.
Therefore, tea-producing countries should integrate climate change challenges, both on the adaptation and mitigation front, into their national tea development strategies.
Tea is mostly produced in the Continent of Asia including countries like India, China, Nepal, Kenya and Sri lanka.
It is also used in these countries as a general drink among masses of every class and sector. Such a huge consumption is because of its easy availability and low cost, while these countries also make more than half of the world in terms of population.
Therefore, the importance of international tea day increases with the interest of a large scale public.
International Tea Day will promote and foster collective actions to implement activities in favour of the sustainable production and consumption of tea and raise awareness of its importance in fighting hunger and poverty. What is in your cup on this International Tea Day?
In the words of William Ewart Gladstone, if you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited, it will calm you.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues. [email protected] @WayneCamo © #InternationalTeaDay