A Primer on the Manly Tradition of Tea

Tea is one of the most popular beverages people enjoy around the world. However, not all teas are created equal. Some have a high caffeine content while others contain herbs like mint that are traditionally linked to masculinity. This article discusses what makes tea “manly” and how drinking it can help improve your health in many ways.,

Editor’s note: Tim Ludy contributed this guest article. 

“There are people who like getting their hands filthy and fixing things. They start their day with coffee and end it with beer. Those that keep themselves clean just appreciate things. They drink milk and juice for breakfast and juice at night. Some people do both, and they drink tea.” Gary Snyder says

When you think of tea parties, you generally picture a bunch of ladies seated around a table, sipping tea from dainty tea cups while nibbling on beautiful biscuits. There’s definitely a doily in the photo as well.

This is what comes to mind for the majority of Americans. How is it possible? After all, one of the most manly tea parties in history kicked off the American Revolution.

Despite the stereotype that “real guys don’t drink tea,” the beverage is widely drunk by both men and women across the globe, ranking second only to water in terms of popularity. Tea has a long and surprisingly macho history, and its health advantages make it a sensible (and delicious) option for contemporary men.

If you’ve never had tea, today I’ll give you a quick summary of its history, a breakdown of its health benefits, and a primer on tea kinds and how to drink and create this historic beverage.

Tea’s Masculine Past

Tea comes from Asia, where tea plants grow organically. Tea has been brewed by men in China, Japan, and India for hundreds of years, reaping its health advantages while also enjoying it as a pleasant beverage.

With the establishment of the Chanoyu tea ceremony, or “way of the tea,” tea became a fundamental aspect of samurai culture in Japan. Warlord Oda Nobunaga maintained numerous tea experts in his company in the 16th century and rewarded his generals with precious tea products. Toyotomi Hideyoshi, his successor, used the tea ceremony to address state problems and made it a central feature of his administration.

In his account of his travels in Asia, Dutch trader and explorer Jan Huyghen van Linschoten characterized the Chanoyu as follows:

“They value the clay cups in which they drink it as much as we do Diamants, Rubies, and other valuable stones, and they value them not for their newness, but for their age, and for the fact that they were fashioned by a skillful workman.”

Linschoten had a significant role in tea’s global dominance. He worked for the Archbishop of Goa for five years, stealing Portugal’s secret trade routes to the East. This robbery shattered a key trade monopoly, allowing other European merchants to access items such as tea.

Vintage british soldier drinking tea next to van.

In the trenches, whereas American troops favored coffee, British soldiers and pilots chose tea.

When tea was first brought to Europe, it immediately became popular, even among most military personnel. The British even devised a built-in kettle for armored tanks during World War II so that their tank soldiers wouldn’t have to expose themselves to the elements everytime they needed a cup of tea. As an intriguing side note, mustaches were immensely fashionable during the Victorian period, and the British military forced its troops to wear them for many years. The Mustache Cup was created as a result of this, allowing mustachioed men to consume hot tea without their mustache wax melting or ruining their facial hair.

 

Tea was so popular in Britain that it was only logical that it would be popular in the American colonies as well. That is, until 1773, when the British established the Tea Act, giving the East India Company a monopoly on the American tea trade. The Sons of Liberty, seeing this as the latest example of the British infringing on American liberties, spilled $18,000 worth of tea into Boston Harbor. This triggered a chain of events that culminated in the American Revolution…as well as a decline in tea consumption in the United States.

Unfortunately, this implies that for generations, many American men have been losing out on the advantages of tea.

Tea’s Health Advantages

Vintage group of men drinking tea from mugs.

Tea’s history and culture are fascinating, but is it enough to convince you to try it? The health advantages are one of the factors that elevates it from a novelty to a serious consideration. This is one of the main reasons for the drink’s sudden popularity. Tea consumption in the United States has risen dramatically since the century.

Tea contains polyphenols, which are antioxidants that aid in the regulation of blood pressure, body fat, liver function, and other biological processes. Here are a few of tea’s distinct health advantages:

  • Researchers discovered that the more tea men consumed, the less likely they were to die from heart disease, stroke, or lung illness. If you want to avoid the bad consequences of cholesterol, the antioxidants in tea may help increase blood valve elasticity, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of stroke by as much as 50%.
  • Tea is one of the main components in most fat-burning products on the market today. Tea has been shown to improve fat burning during exercise, stimulate metabolism, and promote fat release into the circulation for use as energy. It’s also a terrific zero-calorie drink for cutting down on sugary drinks like soda and curbing hunger in between meals.
  • Enhances skin health: If you’re like most guys, you probably don’t give your skin much thought, yet caring for it improves its appearance as well as its defensive characteristics. Tea’s antioxidants make your skin more resistant to UV radiation, which reduces wrinkles and the risk of skin cancer. If you have acne every now and again, tea has been shown to help with the three main causes: clogged pores, hair follicle irritation, and bacteria development.
  • Enhances memory: For every guy, staying sharp as he gets older should be a primary goal. Tea reduces the action of enzymes that break down neurotransmitters and cause protein deposits in the brain, which may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Researchers also feel that regular tea users may improve their memory.
  • Many “bedtime teas” are available on the market, and millions of people drink tea to help them go asleep. But here’s the thing: there isn’t any scientific proof that tea has sedative properties. Even if the contents don’t appear to help you sleep, the ceremony itself does. Perhaps it’s the simple act of following a pattern to notify your body that it’s time to sleep, or the general soothing impact of a hot beverage. Whatever the reason, it works for a lot of people, including myself, and it’s worth a go if you’re having trouble sleeping.
  • Reduces cancer risk: According to the Mayo Clinic, men who consume more than five cups of tea a day had a decreased chance of prostate cancer. Tea’s components aid to prevent cancer by inhibiting carcinogenesis at several organ locations, modulating immune system function, and scavenging free radicals.

Coffee vs. Tea

Vintage soldier in tank drinking cup of tea.

 

Even though tea seems like a delicious beverage, many of you already have a hot beverage that is a part of your daily routine. Despite the fact that tea is drunk far more extensively across the world, coffee reigns supreme in North and South America.

Even if you’re already devoted to your cup of coffee, I’d argue that a cup of tea has a place on a man’s table and office desk. There’s no need to choose one over the other; both have advantages, and there are reasons to consider switching from coffee to tea on occasion.

The caffeine concentration is the most significant variation between the two (apart from flavor). Tea has a lower caffeine content than coffee (24-40 mg per cup compared to 100-200 mg). Tea’s polyphenols help your body absorb caffeine over a longer period of time, which means you’re less likely to crash. Tea may be decaffeinated by steeping the leaves once, then dumping out the first steep and re-steeping. This gets rid of around 75% of the caffeine.

Consider switching to tea after your morning cup of coffee instead of a second cup later in the day if you’re trying to cut down on your caffeine intake (which can cause sleep problems).

The perception that coffee has a stronger, bolder flavor is another reason why men like it. In reality, it all depends on the kind of tea you choose. Many forms of tea have a stronger, more complex taste than coffee…

Teas of many types

Vintage man tasting various types of tea.

“There are a million and ten thousand different kinds of tea.” –Lu Yu, The Classic of Tea, the world’s earliest known monograph on tea

“However, I’ve tried tea and don’t like for the flavor.” For the most of my non-tea-drinking existence, I believed this. I’d tried tea a few times before and found it to be too floral for my liking. Then I discovered that what I had sampled was not, in fact, tea!

The term “tea” is often misused to refer to any beverage made by combining herbs or leaves with water. The term “tea” refers to a particular beverage made from the Camellia sinensis tea shrub. Green tea, black tea, oolong, white tea, and pu-erh are all examples of this. Herbal teas, also known as herbal infusions or herbal tisanes, are made up of a variety of flowers, herbs, spices, and fruits.

Although tisanes offer health advantages and are appreciated by many people, they are not technically tea. They’re not for me, either. You could assume tea isn’t for you if you’ve only ever tasted your mother’s chamomile.

Camellia sinensis, on the other hand, has a wider range of tastes and styles that may appeal to a man’s palate. Despite the fact that they only come from one species of plant, there are several types. There are more varieties of tea in China than there are wines in France. This variation is due to the way the tea leaf is made. I won’t go into detail about the production process (if you’re interested, see Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss’ The Story of Tea), but here’s how the six tea classes vary in terms of flavor:

 

  • Green Tea: Green tea has a light tint and a strong taste. It is the oldest and most popular form of tea. This kind is mentioned in the majority of research on the health benefits of tea. Caffeine content typically varies between 8 and 36 mg.
  • Because of its basic production technique, white tea, an unfermented, uncured green tea, maintains the greatest health advantages. The color and taste of this tea are both lighter than green. Caffeine content typically varies between 6 and 25 mg.
  • Yellow Tea: Yellow tea is also known as “fresh tea” since the leaves are naturally dried. It has a taste comparable to green and white tea. Yellow tea has a caffeine concentration that falls in between green and black tea, at roughly 33 mg.
  • Black tea is the second most popular kind of tea after green tea. Its production results in a deeper, reddish-brown tea with a more strong taste. Because black tea has a greater caffeine concentration than green tea, several “breakfast teas” (like Earl Grey) incorporate it (from 23-110 mg).
  • Oolong Tea: Oolong tea is a combination of green and black tea that has some of the most complex tastes and many of the health advantages of green tea. Caffeine content varies from 12-55 mg.
  • Pu-erh Tea: Probably the most unusual tea on our list, Pu-erh is compressed (or bricked) and has a fuller, earthier taste. This variety of tea, like wine, grows more complex as it matures. It’s true that it’s an acquired taste. The flavors were a touch too earthy for me in the first cup, but by the fourth or fifth (pu-erh promotes several steepings – more on that later), I was really loving them. Caffeine content is 30-70 mg.

There are several styles of tea within each of these categories. Extra tastes may be added, manufacturing processes can be tweaked, and different varieties of tea can be mixed to produce new flavors. For their rich, strong taste, males find the following types especially appealing:

  • Gunpowder Green Tea: Gunpowder tea is a basic, powerful green tea that is a wonderful introduction to the beverage due to its higher caffeine level.
  • Winston Churchill’s favorite tea, Lapsong Souchong, has a rich, smokey taste comparable to a cigar or single malt Scotch (also favorites of the British Bulldog).
  • Because of its dark hue, nutty scent, and powerful, malty taste, Assam Kama Black is an excellent coffee alternative.
  • Genmaicha: This green tea and roasted brown rice combination is also known as “brown rice tea” or “popcorn tea.” The fresh taste of green tea is combined with the roasted, nutty flavor of rice in this full-bodied beverage.
  • Tanzania CTC: A completely oxidized black tea with maltiness akin to Assam but a lighter, nuttier finish, Tanzania CTC is a fully oxidized black tea from Tanzania.
  • Dong Ding Oolong is a Taiwanese oolong tea that falls between between a heavier black and a lighter green tea. It has a nutty, roasted flavor and a less fruity scent than other lighter oolongs when roasted medium.

So, where do you begin? Everyone has distinct preferences. A deeper black tea, a lighter green tea, or the earthy flavor of pu-erh are all options. Oolong is my personal favorite since it has a crisp, rich flavor that is neither too dark nor too light. This is something I discovered after beginning my tea adventure with a taster box. Many tea stores and merchants provide sample packs with tiny tins of a few different varieties of tea to assist you figure out what you like.

 

How to Make a Fantastic Cup of Tea

Vintage laborers pouring tea from a kettle on a break.

With its many health advantages and wide range of tastes, tea should be beginning to sound like a very enticing beverage. What’s not to like about that? The belief that tea is too hard or time-consuming to make might be the last deterrent to taking the leap.

To be honest, preparing the “ideal” cup of tea requires the use of gram scales, water filtration systems, and a great deal of time. If that’s a goal you want to achieve, the road will be enjoyable. If you’re simply a casual tea drinker, all you’ll need is some hot water, tea leaves, and a vessel to combine the two.

Simply buy tea bags at your local store and follow the directions on the package to make a delightful beverage (this is how I initially started drinking tea regularly). However, by following a few simple guidelines, you can make a genuinely excellent cup of tea without wasting too much time or effort. Here are a few easy things to think about:

Loose Leaf vs. Tea Bags

Tea bags provide a more convenient method to brew a cup of tea, but the quality is typically inferior. Instead of the whole leaves, most tea bags include the dust, fannings, and twigs from broken tea leaves. As a consequence, the tea becomes more bitter. These leaves are also not as fresh as tea purchased loose leaf. Tea leaves need space to grow and unfold in order to unleash their full taste and fragrance. Tea bags collapsing on the leaves prevents the leaves from expanding.

The majority of the equipment required to prepare a cup of loose leaf tea is affordable, and switching may save you money immediately.

Tools for the Job

“If you just have one pot and can brew tea in it, that will enough.” How much does he lack himself, despite the fact that he must have a lot of things?” –Sen Rikyu, a tea expert from Japan

Depending on your preferences, you may steep loose leaves in a variety of methods. Tea connoisseurs advise against using tea balls unless you’re drinking a very finely cut black tea, since they constrain the tea leaves similarly to a tea bag. Instead, let the water to flow around and infuse the leaf in a teapot, tea glass, or other bigger leaf-containing device. A strainer is included in teapots and tea glasses to enable you to pour your tea into a cup while keeping the leaves separate to re-steep or discard. A leaf-holding device, such as a stainless-steel basket, is inserted within your teacup and removed after the steeping is complete.

Temperatures and Brewing Times

Vintage laborers drinking tea on break.

The temperature of the water you’re using and how long you’ll soak the leaves are the last factors to consider while making your tea. The temperature and steeping time for each variety of tea will be different. Look for instructions from the seller on how to brew their tea the way they suggest. Although there are exceptions, the following are the basic principles (note that they are all below boiling temperature – either let your boiling water settle for a few minutes or acquire a kettle with temperature control):

 

  • White Tea: 160-170 degrees, 1.5-2 minutes steeping
  • Green Tea: steep for 2-3 minutes at 170-180 degrees.
  • 180-200 degrees, 1.5-2 minutes steeping time for oolong tea
  • Steep black tea for 3-4 minutes at 190-200 degrees.
  • Pu-erh: steep for 2-5 minutes at 200-212 degrees.

The same leaves may be steeped 2-3 times for white, green, and oolong tea. Tea leaves from Pu-erh may be brewed 6-8 times. Simply place the leaves in a teapot, glass, or basket and fill with fresh water.

Tea is more than simply a tasty beverage with several health advantages, no matter how you prepare it. It’s a macho ritual that dates back thousands of years and is an important element of human civilization. Make yourself a cup of tea and start reaping the rewards right now!

 

Tea is more than simply a tasty beverage with several health advantages, no matter how you prepare it. It’s a macho ritual that dates back thousands of years and is an important element of human civilization. Make yourself a cup of tea and start reaping the rewards right now!

Tim Ludy works in marketing and technology as a writer and content strategist. He runs Monomyth Marketing, a marketing firm that specializes in developing web content and assisting clients in telling their stories. 

Sources:

Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide is a cultural history and drinking guide for tea. 

A Quick and Easy Guide to Tea

Everything You Should Know About Tea

 

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it manly to drink tea?

A: Yes.

When did the tradition of tea drinking begin?

A: The tradition of tea drinking began around the year 600 AD.

Where does the tradition of drinking tea come from?

A: British people began drinking tea in the mid 17th century, after they invented a way to preserve it. They first put their tea leaves into cold water and then heated up this pot of boiling water before adding fresh hot water from the fire. By doing so, they were able to keep their drink warm for long periods at a time without having to add any more heat themselves.