Tea is on my mind this week, following a chat and tasting with tea ambassador Louise Roberge. As president of the Tea Council of Canada, Roberge knows a thing of two about tea. Not only that but she was recently proclaimed Tea ‘Man’ of the Year at a prestigious global convention in China.

Tea authority Louise Roberge, president of the Tea Association of Canada

Tea authority Louise Roberge, president of the Tea Association of Canada

I’ll confess a personal bias. Even though I love coffee (and drink a fair bit of it), I was raised on tea, which was a standard in our family. Every morning I still head right for the kettle and my two bag pot of Tetley’s Orange Pekoe. Not only is there something reassuring about my morning cuppa—and, yes, it’s partly tradition—but I like it.

The Tetley Tea Dance ... every morning

The Tetley Tea Dance … every morning

But don’t just listen to me.
Here are more reasons why you should think about drinking tea…

1. Tea is pretty popular.

Next to water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. And people have been drinking it for a while, especially the Chinese, who were likely using it for medicinal purposes as long ago as 1500 BC.

2. Tea can be good for you.

Roberge says that a desire for less caffeine—and no calories, as well as an increasing awareness of the health benefits of tea’s natural antioxidants—is also driving tea’s growing popularity.

Tea-leaves-in-different-styles3. It’s Trendy

This leafy indulgence is actually trendy, really trendy. Tea consumption in Canada is on the rise, currently at 8.3 cups a week. The Canadian Food Trends Report says consumption is expected to jump by 40 percent by the year 2020.

4. It’s truly affordable.

By my calculations the average Tetley’s Orange Pekoe teabag costs me around 7 cents (based on 144 for $10). That means my morning habit (excluding milk, one sugar cube and my very expensive labour) costs a whopping 14 cents… Even less, if I wring them out and use them again … 😉

Tea-and-Food-pairings-TP-photo

Tea as a food pairing or culinary ingredient is also growing in popularity

5. Tea goes with food

When you think of matching your fave plate with a beverage, chances are your mind will go straight to wine. However, with her flight of seven contrasting teas, Roberge included a trio of intriguing food pairings, courtesy of Forage Restaurant. The dishes spanned three contrasting styles of tea, including Green Jasmine with Pacific Provider salmon crudo, and rich bodied Pu-erh tea with a Gelderman pork bao and smoked maple hoisin sauce.

Particularly convincing was a Lapsang Souchong smoked duck carpaccio roll with melon and arugula which proved a delicious pairing with its similarly smoky namesake tea. If you want to experiment in pairing your own favourite dishes with tea, check the TAC’s wide ranging pairing guide.

 

6. Tea now comes with expertise.

There’s a real thirst for knowledge around tea. In fact, you can become a certified Tea Sommelier. TAC’s Tea Sommelier program, introduced a decade ago, is forging ahead. It’s now offered in community colleges in Ontario, Nova Scotia and BC as well as online. To date there are 185 and counting certified Tea sommeliers in the country. Expect more restaurants to figure out that tea, well recommended and properly served, can present a real opportunity, as well as cater to a growing segment of their clientele.
No wonder tea sales are climbing … Steeply.