My relationship with tea has matured throughout the years. It started with hoarding the seemingly free tea bags at conferences with intriguing flavors like “orange vanilla spice” and “banana dessert”. I then got into the Starbucks world of Tazo (which at that point wasn’t bought out by the coffee giant yet). Eventually that lead, like most things do with me, to wanting to experience the best in class with the tea world.
I’ve been told I’m an elitist, which I don’t entirely agree with. I mean, politically I most certainly am not, and medically I couldn’t be further from that. Afterall, we have built an entire business on educating you how to cure yourself with weeds from your backyard for crying out loud! Nevertheless, I am finally coming to terms with my elitist desires when it comes to 1. Herbalism 2. Food and 3. Socks. It’s not worth skimping out on those cheap cotton pairs that have holes in them before you even get to try them on.
The same is true for herbalism, and with good reason. Not only is it crucial to make monetary choices that impact environmentalism with regards to herbalism and the supplement industry, but it is also important to understand your personal health consequences of such choices. It goes without saying that we support local and wildcrafted herbalism as much of the industry is wrought with unethical practices halfway around the world, nevertheless producing subpar medicinals. BUT! Did you know that most of the tea out on the market isn’t even real tea?!
Let me break that down a bit more too, since there are terminology problems abound. “Tea” is colloquially referred to any beverage that comes in a tea bag and is not coffee. The term originally was used for beverages that contain Camellia sinensis (aka the tea plant). All other hot beverages that do not contain Camellia sinensis and instead use other herbs, are technically called tisanes. We all know how technical Keely is, which is why our blends sport that name as opposed to calling them teas. Nevertheless when someone comes in the shop asking for “tea” I point them in the right direction and don’t bother to correct them (because I’m not an elitist).
So besides the fact that most tea is not real tea, even the tea that is real tea is still fake tea! Let me tell you why. Because even the tea that has Camellia sinensis and/or other herbals in it, typically is using a bunch of “natural flavors” and other odd chemical profiles in order to make your hot beverage robust and flavorful. Take a look at your packages. Even plain old black tea that is sold in bulk boxes at the supermarket is doused with natural flavors, nevermind the “banana splits” and “orange vanilla spice” blends.
This leads me to the point in all of this. Real tea (aka elite tea) has subtle notes and flavors that are blended together with care by a professional who takes composition, brew time, and purpose into account with each cup. Think about wine and all those sommeliers huffing fermented grapes in order to acknowledge the finer profiles of tobacco, dirt, vegetal, etc. The same holds true for teas. If you find yourself surprised by the apparent and abrupt quality of your tea, check to make sure you are not in fact, drinking the same flavorful ingredients added to Dr. Pepper.