Tea is on my mind this week, following a chat and tasting with 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. It 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 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. It can be good for you.

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

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

This leafy indulgence is actually trendy, really trendy. The beverage’s consumption in Canada is on the rise. It’s 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 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. It 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 types, Roberge included a trio of intriguing food pairings, courtesy of Forage Restaurant. The dishes spanned three contrasting styles, including Green Jasmine with Pacific Provider salmon crudo, and rich bodied Pu-erh with a Gelderman pork bao and smoked maple hoisin sauce.

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

 

6. A Certified Somm?

There’s a real thirst for knowledge. 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 more than 185 Tea sommeliers in the country. Expect more restaurants to figure out that. Well recommended and properly served, it can present a real opportunity. And cater to a growing segment of their clientele.
No wonder tea sales are climbing … Steeply.