Make it a tea, but ice it…

World Tea Expo kicked off this week (12-14 June) in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event, which focuses on specialty tea, is the largest B2B tea event in the United States. Tea continues to grow in popularity in the US, particularly among those under 35. In 2018, Americans consumed more than 84 billion servings of tea, with more than half of the American population drinking tea on any given day.

However, while most of the world drinks hot tea, 75 – 80% of Americans opt for iced tea over hot. Celebrating this fact, June has been deemed National Iced Tea Month.

“As the popularity of tea surges, we’ve learned that tea is much more than just a healthy, refreshing beverage. Millennials truly have an emotional connection with tea,” said Peter Goggi, president of the Tea Council of the USA and the Tea Association of the USA.

To access America’s growing fascination with the ancient brew, the Tea Council of the USA commissioned a survey, which discovered – quite surprisingly, and I’m skeptical – that 24 million Americans think that drinking a cup of their favourite brew is as good as sex. The survey found that more men than women (13% vs. 8%) and more millennials than older generations (16% vs. 7%) feel this way.

The online survey, conducted by Kelton Global, also showed that nearly one-quarter (22%) of Americans could not survive Monday morning without tea as their daily fuel. Fewer say this about pressing the snooze button on their alarm (17%), reading their favourite blog (14%) or using their Outlook calendar (12%).

Tea’s popularity is partly attributed to its perceived health benefits, of which there are many. Researchers are continually finding new health benefits from tea consumption, whether it’s black, green, white, oolong or dark teas – any tea from the Camellia sinensis plant, (not tisanes or herbal teas). Recent research has revealed that:

  • Drinking green tea polyphenols has been linked to increased skin protection from UV rays and improved elasticity. In a 12-week trial, where women were randomized to drinking extracted green tea polyphenols, they saw improvements in skin elasticity, roughness and scaling thought to be a result of increased blood flow and oxygen delivery to the skin.
  • Early research in animal models suggests that both black tea and green tea polyphenols may impact the gut microbiome to promote weight loss. Research on mice also suggests that when given a green or black tea polyphenol supplement, after being fed a high-fat, high-sugar diet, weight loss was triggered due to changes in the gut microbiome. Researchers concluded that tea polyphenols had an impact on the gut microbiome to increase weight loss.
  • Research using data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis demonstrated that tea drinkers have slowed progression of calcification and fewer cardiovascular events. Specifically, black tea consumption has been linked to decreased risk for a heart attack and improved cardiovascular health.

Given the heat and humidity that seem to be following me no matter what state or country I’m in, a glass of fruit-infused iced tea sounds perfect right now.

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