Tea: what’s up with that?

Can't help but tangle with tea time

Sarah Sommer

Tazo Tea Time: Tazo, a famous tea brand created by Starbucks, has been feeding into our bizarre love since it was founded in 1994.

By Sarah Sommer

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Tea is quite the concept. People all around the world take little baggies full of herbs, stick them in hot water, and then drink them. People have habits and designated “tea-times,” favorite combinations, and special recipes. However, you may as well be sipping on a freshly brewed cup of leaves, straight from the pile in your backyard.

They’ve even added these bizarre mixtures to other drinks– walk past a cafe in winter, and the air will be thick with the scent of Vanilla Chai Lattes. In all walks of life, tea is a designated fan-favorite. And yet in its very essence tea is, frankly, kind of gross. What’s up with that?

This weird concoction was invented in China as early as 2737 BC, according to most legends. Like the Emergen-C of our ancestors, people used to drink tea for its medicinal qualities. Tea became the hot new drink, so much so that it could only be drunk by emperors or used for religious offerings.

It wasn’t until the 17th century that the western world hopped on the warm, soggy bandwagon. King Charles II married someone from Portugal who had a peculiar liking for exotic flavors, especially tea. The drink became a sign of wealth– tea-times were a chance to socialize and take a break from the everyday rough-and-tumble of being a rich aristocrat. In fact, tea was so expensive in Britain that it was often smuggled to those who couldn’t afford it at its legal prices.

From there it was all downhill for tea– no longer could it be kept from us common folk, reserved for royalty or the rich. When the Dutch immigrated to America, they brought tea with them, and soon, it was being shipped all around the world.

Fast forward a few years, an American Revolution that lowered tea taxes, numerous new inventions that modernized our leaf-drinking habits, and even the debut of iced tea at the World Fair in 1904. Tea became, and has remained, an integral part of our society. These days, we barely even think about it, except when our teabags break and we’re faced with a disgusting mouthful of leaves and a whole lot of questions.

So there you have it. The “cool kids” of China’s earliest civilizations decided that tea isn’t weird– even though it totally is– and we all believed them.