Jan 292002
Authors: Bo Bandy

Tea, a drink powerful enough to help start a war and replace your morning cup of coffee, is becoming the beverage of choice, at least for college students.

Tea, a beverage that can be traced back over 5,000 years, has played an important role in American customs and culture. Beginning with the Boston Tea Party – an event that lead to the American Revolution – tea has slowly increased in popularity.

With the invention of the tea bag in 1908 by Thomas Sullivan of New York, the number of tea drinkers increased dramatically.

Now, the tea trend is touching today’s college student.

“We have lots of students who don’t drink coffee, but come in all the time for a good cup of tea,” said Jamie Gast, an employee at Rocky Mountain Coffee Connection.

Rocky Mountain Coffee Connection, located at 2555 S. Shields, serves numerous types of tea.

“We serve all the standard varieties, but green tea has definitely become more popular in the past few months,” Gast said.

Tea breaks down into three basic types: black, green and oolong. Differences created during the tea’s post-harvest oxidation process yields the distinct tealeaf flavors.

According to stashtea.com, over 90 percent of the tea consumed in the U.S. is black tea, which yields a hearty-flavored, amber brew. Some of the popular black teas include English Breakfast, Darjeeling and Orange Pekoe.

Green tea has a more delicate taste and is light green or golden in color. Green tea, a staple in the Orient, is gaining popularity in the U.S. due in part to recent scientific studies which link green tea drinking with reduced cancer risk.

Oolong tea, popular in China, is a cross between black and green tea in color and taste.

While flavored teas evolve from these three basic teas, herbal teas contain no true tealeaves. Herbal and “medicinal” teas are created from the flowers, berries, peels, seeds, leaves and roots of many different plants.

Sweet Sinsations, located in the Lory Student Center, serves approximately 15 varieties of tea. Shift manager Leroa Workman believes Earl Gray and British Breakfast are two of the more popular flavors.

“We’ve started serving a lot more tea, especially since we switched to Republic Tea,” Workman said. “It’s a nice alternative to coffee, because it’s lighter. It’s not as harsh.”

Tea may lack the bitter taste of coffee, but the three teas do not lack caffeine.

“Many people come in thinking tea is caffeine-free, but really it has just as much as coffee,” Gast said.

Not only does tea contain caffeine, it also contains a wide variety of compounds that ma be good for everything from your teeth to your cardiovascular health.

Students who are looking for a coffee alternative might just want to consider a nice cup of tea. n

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