Pour yourself a hot one
With Calgary immersed in the crisp winter season, there’s nothing better on a cold day than a nice hot beverage to help one forget about their daily stresses.
Although some people swear by their specialty coffee drinks, loose tea is gaining in popularity and complementing the healthy lifestyle that many strive for.
“[Tea is] following that wholesome lifestyle,” Dannii Seguin, a 19-year-old tea lover, said. “[It caters to] your vegetarian, your vegan, your anti-mainstream groups, where coffee is too blah and alcohol is too harsh.”
Seguin recalled one of the first times she enjoyed a cup of tea, having been around 10 years old, huddled around the kitchen table with her mother and step-grandmother. She explained how it made her feel special to be having tea “with the big people.”
Since then Seguin has been a proponent for tea and the copious amounts of health benefits that accompany it.
According to manager of Oolong Teahouse in Kensington, Anna-Lee Rieb, “tea is like a cup of good health.”
She pointed out that among the various teas that help with everything from colds to stomachaches, rooibos tea is gaining in popularity thanks to its high antioxidant content.
“It’s also very good for your skin and your hair, and digestion,” Rieb added, noting that in some countries, rooibos tea is actually used as a topical ointment to soothe skin ailments such as burns.
Oolong Teahouse is one of Calgary’s most well known teahouses, having opened six years ago by a family of tea lovers who just wanted to share their passion with people, explained Rieb.
Aside from the numerous health benefits of looseleaf teas, Rieb mentioned that the flavour is what makes this specific variation of tea more attractive to tea lovers. She said that tea bags tend to retain the flavour of the tea, as well as often have added preservatives.
When compared to its most recognized competitor, coffee, tea is commonly known to be the beverage of choice for those looking to stay alert while remaining at ease.
“That’s one of the great things about tea, you don’t get this crash and burn,” Elise Cappuccitti, director of communications for Teaopia, said. “You’re able to stay calm and really relaxed and at the same time be focused enough to continue on with your day and energetic enough to be able to do so.”
Tea enthusiast Kimberley Jev, 24, said that she feels better when drinking tea and that when she drinks coffee she finds herself feeling shaky with her heart rate being, “all over the place.”
Seguin agreed with Jev’s opinion of coffee and eloquently described drinking tea as a “gentle pat on the back.”
Teaopia’s Cappuccitti explained that it is the L-theanine, which is almost exclusively found in tea, that aids in relaxation.
Although Teaopia tends to cater to a different, more retail-oriented and arguably more mainstream market than Oolong Teahouse, both venues take on the properties of the tea they sell and attempt to create relaxing environments for people to take their time and experience tea.
For Rieb, tea is a reminder to slow down and she described her customers as being a lot more patient than those who might be found frequenting local coffee shops.
Walking into Oolong even at its busiest time, one can instantly recognize the aura of calm hovering in the air.
“In Calgary right now there is a lack of community and I feel like rather than go to a bar and drink alcohol and put all of that negative stuff in you, I’d rather come here and chill out, meet people and interact,” Jev explained of her Oolong visits, adding how well tea goes hand in hand with conversation.
With its health benefits and relaxation abilities, tea lovers agree that if you haven’t tried looseleaf tea, you should. Rieb said it best: “Enjoy life sip by sip and not gulp by gulp.”