I like to keep track of any news items relating to tea that I find on the internet. Once the spurious stories about the Tea Party or the latest tea time cricket scores have been weeded out there are usually some recurring or common themes with articles about tea and health being the most popular. Here are some stories that caught my eye this week.
I am always reluctant to try to promote tea on health grounds. In that we have to drink to survice tea is a delicious way to take liquids and there are, it appears, some constituents in tea that are beneficial to health. However, I find the whole health angle overplayed as you could easily get the impression that by drinking tea you might live forever. If the news is to be believed it seems that at any given time there are groups of scientists (or boffins in tabloid speak) performing studies about tea. Here is a good summary in Treehugger which summarises the often cited areas of teas health benefits. As the article, which focuses on iced tea, alludes adding copious amounts of sugar or syrup is not likely to end up with a positive health giving experience. Another health focused headline featured on Medical Press but it was more a brief history of tea than any particular insight into the topic. Some more serious research (this from the UK NHS website) reported on how green tea extract can help Downs Syndrome patients. This seems to be good news but it would be wrong to confuse and extract with the odd cuppa.
The Daily Mirror reports that they have dispelled the myth that drinking tea (or coffee) causes dehydration. Frankly I had never come across this myth but at least it is something I can stop worrying about. On the subject of things that surely most of us know, Lifehacker beseeches us to store our tea in airtight containers to preserve shelf life. On the other hand I see quite a few retailers who leave there teas (and coffees) on display in the open.
I am somewhat ambivalent about Starbucks and am not sure what to make of their entry into the tea market. In my own opinion they take a lot of the credit for modernsing the coffee industry but their current day offering is rather bland. They have recently teamed up with the folks at Budweiser (the sweetest beer known to mankind?) to produce some non-alcoholic bottled teas. Perhaps they are inspired by this Japanese bottled tea that sells for over 10 dollars a go. There is a lot of bottled tea sold here in Vietnam but from the few I have tried it is not much more than sugary water -perhaps they rinsed a few tea leaves when they filled up the bottle.
I was disappointed to see that T2 tea had been sold to Unilever as the industry is already far too dominated by large corporations which ultimately reduces consumer choice. This was the downside of an encouraging Guardian report on the hipster happenings at the Melbourne Tea Festival.
Finally a worrying report from The Hindu suggesting that tea prices may decline over the next 10 years. From what I have read there are serious issues (particularly in some areas of India) with poverty and hardship on the tea estates and a drop in prices is the last thing that is needed. I can't help thinking that most people pay too little for thier cuppa.