It’s obvious with the aura of health surrounding tea that Baby Boomers and health-savvy thirty-to-forty-somethings would be drawn to it. Less obvious are the many reasons it appeals to younger generations.
Just a few days ago, I saw a post from a fellow tea blogger about twenty-somethings forming community through tea and technology. Last month, a tea retailer told me about her most loyal and tea-obsessed customers – teenage boys. These aren’t isolated incidents. Time and time again, when I interview tea business owners from across the country, I hear the same thing: young people love tea.
According to the tea business owners I’ve interviewed, a love of tea often starts very young, around age seven. I’m not talking about an interest in teddy bear teas and Victorian tearooms here. This is about the age children start to get really obsessive. They ask a lot of questions. They read up. They know more than any normal adult when it comes to the objects of their obsessions. Their interest in a variety of plants (as well as their parents’ desire to keep caffeine consumption to a minimum) makes them natural fans of herbal infusions.
A love for true tea (from the tea plant) tends to start a little later, usually late in middle school or early in high school. I’m told that sweeter drinks with moderate to high caffeine levels (such as matcha lattes, masala chai and tea smoothies) are considered to be a natural and indulgent study aid for teenagers.
Later, the reasons for a love of tea shift yet again. In college, the desire for caffeine as a study aid tends to stick around. Pure matcha, gyokuro and strong black teas fit the bill. Unfortunately, for many college students, tea consumption is outweighed by alcohol consumption. Of course, that often changes after graduation when the partying ends, tolerances drop, and hangovers increase in severity!
After college, some turn to pu-erh for its rumored ability to relieve hangovers. Others obsess over oolong, a connoisseur’s tea with an immense capability for depth, complexity and evolution of palate over multiple infusions. The geekier amongst my age range (mid- to late-twenties) often stick with the higher-caffeine options college students love, perhaps because they are weaning themselves off of energy drinks and espresso shots. Meanwhile, foodies (who span generations, but often form a strong interest in food after college) tend to experiment with tea cocktails, lapsang-souchong-smoked mushrooms or duck, matcha cookies and other culinary uses of tea.
Ultimately, I think that tea is ageless. However, that doesn’t mean that some teas don’t suit particular ages better than others. How old were you when you first got into tea? Which teas did you drink first? What did you love about them?
Lindsey for Samovar Life
Lindsey “Vee” Goodwin is a professional tea writer and consultant. She founded Vee Tea, is a contributing editor to World Tea News, writes for non-industry publications about tea and writes web copy/press releases for tea companies. She is also a consultant to several tea companies and teaches about tea through staff training and individual/small group classes and tastings. Click here to reach her by email. .