By Tom Havran
Call me dramatic, but I would die without tea, as surely as I would die without food or shelter. Tea is the second most-consumed beverage on earth after water, but for me, it’s the other way around. Yes, I would surely whither away without tea.
On a more rational level, I suppose the benefits of drinking tea daily have been apparent since that first leaf dropped into a cup of steaming, hot water. My reasons for enjoying tea are the same as those of generations before me: Tea tastes good, it’s good for me, it’s beautiful and it lifts my spirit.
1. “Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea.” –Author unknown. Tea tastes good and there’s virtually no downside to indulging in it. It never makes me jittery and there’s no post-caffeinated crash. I take my tea calorie-free, fat-free, sugar-free and cholesterol-free, but not flavor-free. The tastes of tea can be wonderfully fresh, bracing, vegetal, floral, astringent, earthy, bright, green and rich. A favorite weekend indulgence of mine is Frontier’s peachy, aromatic Se Chung Oolong with whole grain toast and homemade gooseberry jam.
2. “Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the Apothecary.” –Chinese proverb. Tea is good for me and I believe it does good things for my body. Any search for information about tea’s role in health shows that the benefits of tea are well-documented and astounding. Tea contains a powerful array of complex antioxidant bioflavonoid compounds known as catechins. The 19 green tea varieties that Frontier offers are an especially rich source of catechin molecules that I partake in daily — actually, twice daily! Folks say I’m well-preserved for a man of 50 years, but I credit my daily tea habit as much as genetics.
3. “If man has no tea in him he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.” –Japanese proverb. Tea is art. It does good things to my mind because it is a beautiful thing to behold and experience. I dig the appearance of whole leaf tea – the cut, curl and color of the leaves – as well as the aroma and flavor they yield as they unfurl in hot water. All of it makes a beautiful study.
I also treasure the art in my collection of tea ware, which includes a 19th century Russian tea tin and a Japanese raku matcha chawan (tea bowl) that’s a perfect fit resting in my cupped hands. Tea is something that I can appreciate and imbibe — providing a much richer experience than art that I’d simply frame to hang on a wall.
4. “Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” –Chinese Zen proverb. Tea is a ritual. It does good things for my spirit. As I boil water and wait for the leaves to steep, I remember that in the earliest days of tea-drinking, one had to chop wood, build a fire, draw water from a well or stream and carry it to your dwelling to brew a pot of tea. All of those humble steps became an exercise of diligence and focus that essentially elevated the tea experience to a spiritual undertaking. Tea illuminates the peace and contentment that is available all around us. For me, preparing and appreciating tea is a moving daily meditation, a mantra of quiet action that brings bliss to my day no matter how challenging it may be.
I consider myself lucky to work for a company that gives me access to a diverse selection of great quality whole leaf green and black teas, including many organic and Fair Trade Certified™ options from all over the world. When I came to work here 20 years ago, I took the first authentic steps on my tea journey and it’s been one of the best trips I’ve ever undertaken.
Why do you drink tea?