Sep 7, 2010

Youth in tea drinking

It's an interesting phenomenon to me that in North America (and maybe Europe as well?), significant amount of serious tea drinkers (not to sure how to define it, maybe "frequent tea drinkers who are constantly curious about and mainly focus on loose leaf tea"?) are very, very young! I have the impression that most serious drinkers in China are in their late late 30s or above, who are lucky enough to have had a childhood free of coca cola or McDonald, who have got stable jobs, a little leisure time and kids beyond infant stage. However, in America, again and again I am amazed how some young people are seriously involved in tea drinking culture. I remember seeing from TeaChat a high school student collecting many dozens of puerh cake in his bedroom closet. On Steepsters, college students talk about organizing tea clubs on campus. Oh my goodness! This never happened when I was in a university!

A quick look on my blog list (the list I keep in the right column of this blog) lead to a conclusion that most of the Chinese bloggers are older than me (I somehow know most of their approximate ages) and most of the western bloggers are younger than me (some of them, although I don't know their ages, simply look so young!). I am in my mid-30s (I put myself on the watershed just for the convenience of a quick comparison).

I wondered why, and my partner's comment is, young people are naturally adventurous and curious about various cultures. In China, curious young people explore Coffee and in the western world, curious young people explore Tea! I would add to it that tea is a perfect wonderland for young people. One will never get bored with tea because there are so many varieties and so many styles to explore!

Some young people do wonders in tea world. The manager of the small factory making my favorite semi-wild Huang Shan Mao Feng, the guy who strives to revive traditional charcoal roast Tie Guan Yin, the farmer who made Red Tea Dan Cong creatively after his tea bushes were damaged by snow storm, they are all very young, ranging from early to late 20s!

But age is just a number. There are many tea drinkers who, no matter how old, are always young at heart. My aunt started drinking oolong at her 50s and my mom got interested in gongfu tea in her 60s. After drinking green tea solely for the first several decades of their life, they now explore their new tea world like curious children. Gong Zhi, one of China's top tea scholars, started writing his most important tea books (Oolong Tea of China, Red Tea of China, Tribute Tea of China) after retirement, and finished them in his 70s.   

In thousands of years, people believe tea helps us maintain youth and vitality. In modern scientific sense, that's still largely true. I always think I am lucky to have tea in my life. Few foods or drinks I love are as healthy as tea, physically and mentally. Drink tea. Stay curious. Stay young. It's a wonderful life!


Sir William of the Leaf said...

I am trying to spread my tea drinking ways among my peers, and in a dorm room its pretty easy! It is interesting how people take to tea! Some people love it fist sip, and some people have to go spit it out. I am proud to say I am a young drinker myself! =]

Gingko said...

Good job!
I still can't believe how old you are! Few people learn so much about tea at your age!

Anonymous said...

I'm in my mid-thirty's as well. I started to seriously explore tea about a year ago. I've often wondered if younger adults had any interest in tea. It's encouraging to read that college students are starting clubs over it.

Ruqyo Highsong said...

I really to start drinking tea again. :/

Jackie said...

I've always been a tea drinker, meaning I probably started sometime in my early teens. In those days I added a lot of milk and sugar. That changed over the years (no sugar, only a splash of milk in black tea.)

I guess youth always wants to explore the other side of the norm. Which explains why Western youth are intrigued by tea, and Chinese young people look at coffee.

For me, it's simply a drink I never want to do without.

Gingko said...

Meg, we are in the same pack!

Asiatic Fox, together with Billy, you carry the mission of spreading tea culture among the youth!

Jackie, I have a feeling that you guys are very young too. The design of LeafBox Tea is full of color and energy!

Rich said...

Like Chinese music, philosophy, cooking, art, etc, Chinese tea is also an important part of our culture that I'm happy so many people want to share in. The growing interest in tea culture in the west will positively affect the cultivation and continued learning of this important art. Learning about and then sharing what I know about tea is one of the best ways I can celebrate and contribute to Chinese culture. Thanks for so generously sharing your knowledge and ideas, also!

Jonah said...

This is to some degree an internet phenomenon.

The average U.S. hot tea drinker is a woman in her 40s who lives on the East Coast. She most likely drinks a black tea from a tea bag, although this is starting to change.

For many years hot tea was viewed as an effeminate drink in many areas of the country, because of an association with Victorian ladies tea parties, so the number of men who drink tea is lower.

Most tea in the U.S. is consumed as inexpensive sweetened black iced tea, mostly in the Southeastern United States, where it is ingrained in the culture.

Most new growth in tea has been in the form of flavored pre-bottled tea sold as a convenience drink out of vending machines and at grocery stores, or from concentrate at soda fountains in cafeterias and fast food restaurants.

The Pacific Northwest, a traditional stronghold of specialty coffee culture, seems to be the birthplace of this new interest in specialty teas. I'm not sure why this is. Possibly this is due to the large number of Asian and Russian immigrants in the area... possibly there is cooling interest in coffee, but an eye for quality hot beverages... or maybe it's just the miserable rainy weather. :)