While millions of people around the world have been sipping tea for nearly 5,000 years, there is surprisingly very little known about it (at least not by those doing the actual sipping).
As you know, we kind of geek out over tea here at Rare Brew and have decided this lack of knowledge is absolutely unacceptable. So, here are 13 ridiculously surprising facts about tea worth knowing before you dive into your next cup…
1. Ice tea was a bit of an accident.
Back in 1904, American’s took their first sip of “iced tea” at the World's Fair in St. Louis. The vendor selling the tea had originally planned on giving away free samples of hot tea (the way tea was widely enjoyed at the time), but when a massive heatwave rocked the city, he decided to do something absolutely crazy. He added a bit of ice to the mix and created… iced tea.
It ended up being the “talk of the fair” and, as you probably know, ultimately led to a cultural disruption in tea drinking. Today, iced tea is about as American as it gets.
Do you disagree? Try asking for hot tea at the next cookout you go to… we imagine folks will probably look at you like you’re crazy.
2. Much to everyone’s surprise, American’s actually drink an absurd amount of tea.
While tea might play second fiddle to coffee here in the United States, it’s certainly not by much. Every single day, 159 million Americans drink tea. That’s nearly half of the United States population. Starbucks purchasing Teavana back in 2012 for $620 million just made a lot more sense...
3. Some tea drinkers add butter to their tea.
While this might not seem all that wonky to those familiar with the Bulletproof coffee craze sweeping across the United States at the moment, tea drinkers in the Himalayas will actually add Yak butter to their black tea because the salt in the butter helps them stay nice and hydrated at higher elevations. And, probably, because it doesn’t taste too shabby either. Maybe you should try it with one of our flavors?
Shhh… we know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t tea dehydrate you? Take a peek at our next point for the answer to that question.
4. Tea might not be as “dehydrating” as folks believe it to be.
One of the biggest complaints against caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee is that it causes dehydration. However, experts have been saying lately that when consumed in reasonable quantities (not Dan in accounting chugging two pots of coffee like some sort of hipster frat star), caffeinated beverages can be as hydrating as water. This changes things... it gives you permission to drink a hell of a lot more tea.
5. The protestors at the Boston Tea Party didn’t really dress up as Native Americans (at least not well).
There is a very good chance your eyes glazed over when your teacher started talking about the Boston Tea Party. However, now that you’re an adult, there are some pretty interesting facts nestled in this historical event that are worth knowing.
For the kids who absolutely despised everything about history class, here’s a quick recap on the Boston Tea Party…
Back in 1773, to protest the increased tax on tea, a bunch of Americans got together one evening and threw 342 chests of King George’s tea overboard.
It is widely believed that these male protestors dressed up as Native American’s to conceal their identity. But, in reality, a good portion of the protestors did some cross-dressing on this fateful evening… dressing up as women.
6. Some of the more passionate tea drinkers will actually spend quite a bit of time pondering tea and food pairings.
As you probably know, folks put quite a bit of time and consideration into pairing wines with food. And, it makes sense. If you’ve ever cut into a ribeye then took a nice swig of a Cabernet Sauvignon, you know the right food with the right wine will make you go weak in the knees.
Well, believe it or not, some of the more passionate tea drinkers claim the same can be done with food and tea. And, who are we to say they’re wrong?
7. There is actually a “champagne of teas”.
One of the most widely prized and sought after teas in the world is Darjeeling. Since it grows only on a 70 square mile plot of land at the base of the Himalayas in West Bengal, India... it’s considered to be the “champagne of teas”... what a name.
8. It’s not a good idea to store your tea near strong-smelling aromas.
For our readers suffering from smelly feet, we’ve got a helpful tip for you… if you place a couple of tea bags in your sneakers, they will actually absorb the smell of your shoes and leave you with sweet-smelling feet.
This is a common hack that folks will use in their refrigerators to keep them smelling… well… not like month-old Chinese take-out and leftover pizza.
However, the same reason you might put a couple of bags of tea in your running shoes is why you should never store your tea near things that produce strong odors like coffee, garlic, onions, your running shoes, etc.
The tea will not only absorb some of these odors, but it will lose some of its more enticing aromas resulting in a pretty terrible sipping experience.
If you want your oolong tasting like oolong, keep it out of the vegetable drawer.
9. Green tea and black tea are kind of the same thing (except not really).
While green tea and black tea obviously look nothing alike, they actually come from the same plant. It’s called Camellia sinensis. We know, we know. It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie. Anyway, what causes the stark difference in flavor between green tea and black tea is the oxidation.
The same thing that makes your bananas turn brown causes your tea to be black. Green tea is less oxidized than black tea giving it a stronger more earthy, leafy flavor.
10. Tea was once so valuable that it was kept in a locked chest.
In the late 17th century, tea was hard to come by in Europe and because of this, quite valuable. So, tea drinkers would keep their precious teas in something called a “tea chest” or “tea caddy”, a small box that could be locked with a key. Odd? Certainly. Though, we know a few very loyal customers over at Rare Brew that would probably use a Tea Caddy today if they could get their hands on one.
11. Once upon a time, tea was literally mixed with shit.
Around this same time in London, tea was so expensive that people would often mix it with things like sawdust, twigs and sheep shit.
Not unlike cocaine being “cut” with other substances, tea would be cut with other materials so it could go a lot further. How’s that for ruining a good tea party, huh? Sipping a cup of tea and noticing the faint funky taste of sheep poo. We’ll pass.
12. Tea is often said to be good for your health.
We obviously can’t make any claims here. However, tea is often associated with good health. Tea is said to help promote weight loss, reduce your chances of having a stroke, protect your bones, prevent cavities, boost the immune system, battle cancer and soothe the digestive system. Like we said, we aren’t making any claims here and we’d ask you to do your own research before drinking tea for any of the above purposes. However, we found this to be pretty interesting.
13. Contrary to common belief, it’s not the British who drink the most tea.
When most people think tea, they think of the UK. But contrary to common belief, it’s not our neighbors across the pond that are sucking down all the world’s supply of tea. Nope. It’s the Turks. On average, they consume 7 pounds of tea per person every single year.
And, being that they all haven’t bit the dust due to severe dehydration, maybe they knew about #4 on our list before the rest of us.
Did this read make you Thirsty?
If this got you in the mood for a cup of tea, we’ve got good news (great news, actually)… we just so happen to sell tea. At Rare Brew, we’re a team of tea connoisseurs bringing specialty tea to the masses with flavors that’ll dazzle your taste buds…
-- By The Rare Brew Team.