According to The Guardian, old-fashioned high tea - scones, cakes, crumpets, sandwiches and, of course, a refreshing cuppa - is enjoying a credit-crunch revival. Tearooms across Britain are reporting that customers are fleeing coffee houses for more homely parlours and cafés. William Gorman, executive chairman of the UK Tea Council, said: "The event of afternoon tea is becoming fashionable again. It seems a younger generation is re-understanding the charm and elegance of the traditional English custom." So, what is all the fuss about?
Well, an avid tea drinker myself, I could ramble on for hours about the benefits and pleasures of not just afternoon tea, but continuous cups throughout the day. It's a good excuse for an accompanying biscuit (you need something to dip into your tea...) or on special occasions, the long-standing tradition of scones with clotted cream and jam. The low levels of caffeine in black and white tea give your powers of concentration a gentle boost and your mood a subtle lift, without the caffeine dependency and withdrawal symptoms induced by coffee. Furthermore, its excellent hydrating properties mean there's no need to force down gallons of water every day.
Black, green, white - all types of tea have their own unique flavours and, it would seem, their own health benefits too.
Here are some of the (scientifically proven) benefits of drinking Tea:
- It’s anti-ageing. In an experiment carried out jointly by researchers from the US, Taiwan and Japan, mice which were fed tea displayed fewer signs of aging than mice that were fed water.
- Both black and Green tea are rich in antioxidants that protect against and cancer, but green tea holds a slight edge. In recent test-tube studies, a compound called EGCG, a powerful antioxidant in tea, inhibited an enzyme that cancer cells need in order to grow.
- And my personal favourite, White Tea, appears to have even more potent anticancer qualities than green tea.
- One cup of tea has more antioxidant power than a serving of broccoli, carrots, or spinach, so ditch the veg and brew a cuppa instead!
- Green tea fights a wide range of sneeze-starting allergens, including pollen, pet dander, and dust.
- Green tea controls inflammation from injury or diseases such as arthritis.
- Drinking black tea may lower the risk of heart disease because it prevents blood from clumping and forming clots. Out of 1,900 heart-attack patients, those who drank two or more cups a day reduced their risks of dying over the next 3.8 years by 44%.
- Lose weight! Compared to the placebo and caffeine, green tea extract consumption produces a significant 4% increase in 24-hour energy expenditure. If you consume 2,000 calories per day and don't gain or lose weight (you're in energy balance), an increase of 4% would translate roughly into an 80-calorie daily difference. Over a year, this could result in 89 pounds of weight loss. Amazing!
Here is a great site to help you choose which type of tea is best for you and your specific health problems.
And finally, you can save the rainforests with every cup you drink. PG tips has teamed up with the Rainforest Alliance to ensure the sustainable sourcing of its tea. Brits get through more than 150 million cups of tea every day, and each cup of PG tips drunk continues to support tea farmers and their families, so this nation of dedicated tea drinkers can give itself a pat on the back for choosing to brew up delicious PG tips tea ;)
So, raise your tea cups to the good old cuppa: refreshing, revitalising, and a welcome break amidst the stresses of everyday life. In a way, it's a form of escapism; originating from the far less frenzied era of the 18th century, afternoon tea has a retro appeal which is attracting more and more people today.
Even Lady Gaga makes sure she finds time for her cuppa somehow...
To get your cup of tea just right, see: How To Make the Perfect Cup of Tea.