While no one can deny you your daily cup of joe, there’s another hot beverage that doesn’t get as much attention for its deliciousness and wellness properties — tea!
Michael Garvin, who teaches “Discovering Tea From Around the World” at Santa Fe College, said the ancient delight was first discovered about 5,000 years ago in China and was mainly used for medicinal purposes.
People recognized its cleansing properties early on. Tea aids digestion, Garvin said, and provides antioxidants, which may help with cancer reversal. Today, it is also a popular belief that tea has anti-aging properties, but this claim is less researched.
Although he’s not a snob when it comes to methods of preparation, Garvin prefers loose-leaf versions, which can be bought online or locally at stores such as Ward’s Supermarket and Earth Origins. Garvin said there are five main kinds of tea: green, black, white, oolong and yellow.
Green tea and yellow tea have a similar light vegetal taste. Black tea can have a strong earthy taste and has the most caffeine, he said. Oolong also has a high caffeine content and is a very processed tea with the most complex taste, according to Garvin. Lastly, white tea is the least processed and might have the most antioxidants after pu-erh, which is a fermented tea full of probiotics.
The culture of tea has also undergone its own transformation. At its beginning, tea was solely medicinal but slowly became a part of philosophy and religion. In Japan and China, Daoism and Buddhism were interwoven with tea as a way of “realizing the fundamental unity of things.” Garvin said it promotes mindfulness, so he always enjoys his tea in the morning to put him in a good mood.
“Tea is consumed to enjoy the moment,” he said.
Tea also became a large part of nationalism and elitism for some countries.
“Around the time they were building the Great Wall, tea became one of the main defining features of Chinese culture,” he explained.
Even Japan, he said, was not a tea-drinking society outside the samurai and clergy classes. Of course, many countries today consume tea but have only done so in the past 400 years, Garvin said. Today, we live in a fast-paced society, and coffee, Garvin said, is part of that culture of rushing.
“Coffee is often seen as fuel,” he said.
Although this may not be as true for countries such as Italy and France, he said, it is apparent in America. He believes that “tea is important for surviving in the modern age” because of the tranquility it brings to the soul.
Tea Time in Town:
Volta Coffee, Tea & Chocolate
This downtown shop offers an array of classic and rare teas that are served in a loose-leaf teapot with a small teacup that you can keep refilling. Plus, you can relax and get work done while listening to some eclectic music. Tea Pick: Iron Goddess of Mercy
Besides the delicious food, this restaurant offers a wide selection of tea by the pot. It’s located downtown, has a cozy atmosphere, and the blended teas are tasty and calming. Tea Pick: Plum
Curia On The Drag
The name alone is enough to go, but the teas are just as good. Curia offers multiple kinds of tea to serve everyone’s tastes. It is also one of the few places in Gainesville that offer pu-erh. Tea Pick: Masala Chai
Know Where Coffee
This quiet café offers fresh tea, coffee and pastries. The menu changes weekly, and the flavors are always unique. Tea Pick: Evening Blend
This local Vietnamese restaurant is tucked away off of University Avenue. While the drink selections aren’t its main feature, the Thai tea is creamy, refreshing and delicious. Tea Pick: Thai Tea