By Claire Hou
Why is it that Starbucks in the U.S. are becoming increasingly empty? The answer to this question, as it is to many others, is bubble tea.
According to the Tea Association of the USA, around 87 percent of American millennials are tea-drinkers. Capitalizing on this interest, the bubble tea market has been growing exponentially as this once-niche industry welcomes new waves of customers every day.
Bubble tea may be familiar to us as people living in China– we all have our orders down to a tee (thirty percent sugar, no ice, with grass jelly and coconut please). But for non-Asians in America, the variety of options in a single bubble tea order is something of a novelty.
“One hundred percent sweetness,” a clerk at Boba Guys in New York said to a customer, “is like a Coke.”
The story goes that bubble tea was created almost 30 years ago in Taichung, Taiwan, when a manager poured the tapioca pearls from her pudding into a glass of Asam Tea. Bubble tea soon became a huge hit in Tawian and throughout Asia– and it has finally broken into Western markets in recent years. Many franchises are opening locations near college campuses in hopes that Asian students will introduce their non-Asian friends to this particular dimension of Asian culture– and it seems to be working.
According to the New York Times, “Vivi Bubble Tea, a franchise business, has 45 shops in the United States, most of them on the East Coast, and seven more under construction. Ten Ren Tea and Ginseng Company, which is based in Taiwan, has four stores in New York City and 26 in other states. CoCo Fresh Tea and Juice has 32 locations in the country, 22 of them in New York City.”
Of course, these numbers have got nothing on the sheer number of bubble tea stores here in China, and Shanghai in particular. There seems to be a 1点点 on every corner, enough to rival the number of Starbucks. As the market continues to grow in the US, however, it seems we all have a little piece of home to look forward to as we go off to college, or whatever endeavors that the future may hold in store.
By Claire Hou
I had some really good kombucha at the commune market this weekend, and now I feel obligated to share this amazing drink with everybody. So if you enjoy a more fruity, sweet taste to your tea, kombucha is a great option.
So first, what is kombucha? Kombucha is a type of fermented tea that can be slightly alcoholic and fizzy– but the best part is that it contains all the same health benefits as traditional tea. See this prior article for the health properties tea can offer us: http://www.xiaohusaitea.com/blog/4-health-benefits-of-tea
It may sound difficult to brew kombucha yourself, but this process is surprisingly simple. After all, kombucha has been around for thousands of years, and people have brewed it in much worse conditions than on your shiny kitchen counter at home.
Just some basic information, kombucha is tea that is fermented with the help of something called a scoby. Scoby is actually an acronym that stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” The scoby floats on top of the tea, the consistency being rubbery and jelly-like. This is what gives the sugary tea its sour and fizzy taste.
And for those of you worried about the alcohol content– don’t worry. There is a bit of alcohol as a byproduct of the fermentation process, but it makes up no more than 1% of the kombucha itself. So unless you’re chugging gallons of this, you should be okay.
Here are some more detailed recipes that teach you step by step how to make kombucha:
Now get brewing!
By Claire Hou
We often associate tea with calmness and serenity. If somebody is in shock, panicking, or has gone through a traumatic event– a fluffy blanket and a warm cup of warm tea can’t go wrong.
How much of this calming effect is due to placebo and how much of it is scientifically founded? Scientists have only recently begun studying the effects of tea on people’s moods and mental health states.
Researchers have found that drinking tea lowers the level of cortisol, a stress hormone. Not only that, but drinking around half a cup of green tea daily seems to be correlated with lower risk of developing depression and dementia.
So what gives tea these sorts of benefits? Catechins in tea, which are antioxidants, make up as much as 42% of the dry weight of brewed green tea. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), one prominent catechin, is thought to improve memory and attention, as well as increase feelings of calmness. The amino acid L-theanine makes up around 3% of the dry weight, and has similar effects when consumed with caffeine. And as well all know, caffeine improves mood and alertness, making up to 5% of green tea’s dry weight.
Of course, these percentages vary from tea to tea, but many of the general properties and benefits remain.
Tea is increasingly becoming an area of interest for scientists as they investigate how diet and nutrition can affect mental health issues. However, ““it’s important not to overestimate the effects,” Stefan Borgwardt, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of Basel, says.
Just remember– the next time you’re feeling stressed or high-strung, don’t panic and do something you’ll regret. Instead, go to your kitchen and make a nice cup of tea. It won’t solve all your problems, but it will surely help you feel better.
For an even more detailed analysis, check out:
by Daniel Wu
“Read the tea leaves”—not in a fortune-telling sense, but more in a literal sense. With tea being the second-most enjoyed beverage across the globe, the tea industry is booming. Many people drink tea every day, but are we sure that the tea giants we buy from are meeting the standards that they’ve promised?
If you go digging around you may find many things in your drink that weren’t promised, such as lead from car emissions, chemicals from coal and air pollution, and pesticides. There have even been precautionary recalls for salmonella risk. From small no-name brands to tea titans, a large portion of them seem to cut corners and bypass legal controls to certain extents.
Do some research on brands the next time you buy tea, just be aware of what may end up in your cup. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so don’t experiment without looking for information and labels that guarantee your tea is safe to drink.