Tahlequah Daily Press

January 3, 2013

A nice cup of tea

According to experts, over 3 billion gallons of the brew - hot or cold – are consumed each year.

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Next to water, it’s the most commonly consumed liquid refreshment on the planet and can be found in nearly every household in America.

It’s the only beverage that can be served hot or cold in any situation. January is National Hot Tea Month, and tea can be found somewhere in a cup or glass being served hot or cold and in varying situations during the winter and summer months.

According to The Tea Association of the USA, people drank over 3 billion gallons of tea in 2011, with black tea accounting for approximately 85 percent of the tea servings consumed. Fourteen percent was green tea, while the remaining amount was comprised of Oolong and white tea. The Tea Association of the USA says that about half of the American population drinks tea on any given day of the year. The largest number of tea drinkers can be found in the south and northeast regions of the country.

Aside from simple pleasure and refreshment, there are teas to do just about anything for which a person may have need, said Oasis Health Food store manager Ellen Haney.

“There are teas to lower your blood pressure or to lower your cholesterol. There are teas that help prevent cancer cells from forming,” she said. “Your green teas can help to add polyphenols and catechins that help keep cancer cells from forming. There are teas for comfort, of course, and there are all kinds of throat-coat teas to ease your throat. Cold care. There are teas to help your cold.”

For those looking for a hot, soothing cup of tea to help combat flu-like symptoms need to pick up “teas with echinacea in there and goldenseal,” said Haney.

“Elderberry flower tea really, really helps to fight the flu, and of course elderberry comes in syrups and cough drops,” she said. “For people who just like teas - a lot of people don’t like capsules. So, if you find you don’t like capsules, you can find almost anything in the tea that you would have taken in a capsule, a lot of times.”

As black tea was the chosen style by the majority of Americans two years ago per The Tea Association of the USA, local resident and tea drinker Cherokee Lowe said she loves tea and that Earl Grey tea is her favorite style of tea.

“I just like the way that it tastes,” she said.

Earl Grey tea is blend of Indian and Ceylon teas that presents a distinctive flavor produced from bergamot oil, which comes from a small, acidic orange. The name of the tea comes from Charles Grey, who was the second earl in his line. Grey was an early 19th Century Prime Minister to King William IV, per EnglishTeaStore.com. Grey is said to have been given the tea recipe by a Chinese mandarin whose life he had saved and later with which became friends.

Though folks growing up in Oklahoma or the region may view tea as a daily staple, Lowe said she has known people who have never given the aromatic drink a chance.

“It’s not like anything else. Tea is totally by itself, and I think it’s an acquired taste,’ she said. “I know a lot of people that don’t drink iced tea. They don’t like the taste of it. That baffles me because I love iced tea, hot tea or any tea really. When I was little, my mom would make us toast and tea. So we would just have buttered toast and plain, black tea with sugar in it. This is kind of a good memory that I have so sometimes when I want comfort, I’ll have toast and tea.”

Oasis Health Foods offers a non-caffeinated, enjoyment tea called Passion tea by Tazo, said Haney.

“It’s got hibiscus, lemon grass, rose hips, mango, passion fruit, [licorice, and cinnamon],” she said. “It’s just very relaxing, and it makes a real pretty purple tea.”

Haney said Oasis Health Foods sells a lot of cranberry tea – which is high in Vitamin C, promotes heart health and optimizes urinary tract health – and a mother’s milk tea that helps to increase lactation for mothers who may not be producing a sufficient amount of milk for their infant.

“We sell more of that than anything,” she said. “And there are teas that help you burn more calories, more fat. The slim teas. The photogenic formulas help burn more fat, and the green tea is involved with that.”