Opium, warfare and teenage slang all have something in common: tea. This drink has sparked revolutions, evolved to accommodate our changing tastes and altered the way we communicate with each other.
Tea has become the most consumed beverage after water, according to the Tea Association. Tea is not just a fad; it has been prescribed to patients to help ease their pain for centuries, all the while being a drink that has led to the bloodshed of others.
While tea is often linked to relaxation, considering its impact throughout history, historians would say otherwise. As Americans, we are no strangers to the American Revolution, and one of its prime symbols was tea, popularized by the Boston Tea Party. Decades after the American Revolution, the British introduced opium to China to exchange it for silver to be traded for tea. This thirst for tea spiraled into a war, leading to the birth of a nation and impacting culture for generations, as mentioned by the National Army Museum.
The impacts of tea are still felt throughout Boston, as desire for this drink remains strong. Gen Sou En, Boston’s first modern Japanese tea house, proves popular amongst younger generations who find this to be a tranquil setting to enjoy tea and unwind.
Noticing America’s growing interest in tea, Gen Sou En, which is the second largest tea producer in Japan, decided to break into their market. Chelsea Brewster, the general manager, mentioned that their new menu includes bubble tea, after overwhelming demand for this drink, a variation mixing milk, tea and chewy tapioca balls.
The influx in bubble tea shops has demonstrated the future generations’ interest in tea, albeit with a sweeter spin. Beyond being an indulgent beverage, bubble tea shops foster comfortable hang out spots that fit youth lifestyles.
“Bubble tea shops add to the social aspect of my life by providing a place for my friends and I to hang out and talk,” said Carolyn Diaz, a senior at the John D. O’Bryant. “Being able to get delicious drinks is a plus.”
Along with catering to youth through a sugary concoction, tea has also found a place in contemporary slang. As noted on Merriam-Webster’s site, the first variant of this word was the letter “T” for “truth.” The term later evolved to “tea” as the social context of tea became fitting, as tea time was when one would discuss the latest drama. This can be seen in modern teenage vocabulary.
“My friends and I bond over tea while we’re spilling juicy tea in conversation,” said Mageney Omar, a Simmons College freshman.
From this single word, it has further evolved to being entire phrases from “spill the tea” to “no tea no shade,” attesting to how tea is woven in our social fabric and culture.
With the long journey tea has taken to cross the Pacific, remember the trail it has blazed before it burns your tongue.